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INTRODUCTION by James Mannox

Late in the autumn of 1988, Stewart Home and Mark Pawson were prowling East London in search of Art Strike recruits. They came to visit me in Beck Road, Hackney. We discussed the social and political role of art, it's effects on society and how this related to the issue of class. Having done time as an art student, my stand-point was clear, all creative action conscious or otherwise was by definition artistic. The concept of art should be transformed, so that all distinctions between artists and the rest of society are eradicated.

I was in favour of the Art Strike and we talked about ways in which we could promote the concept, such as picketing art openings and other forms of direct action. Stewart and Mark told me about the Art Strike Action Committee in California and proposed that we form a British branch. I agreed to this and the ASAC (UK) was formed on the spot. I felt that bombing galleries would provide us with a dramatic way of stating our position. However, the most provocative action we undertook was leafleting sections of London's art community. The ASAC (UK) neglected direct action in favour of propaganda activities. Vive la revolution! For a while, there was intense international activity. British, Irish, German and three strategically located American Art Strike groups produced and distributed thousands of propaganda leaflets, posters, comics, pamphlets, T-shirts, balloons, stickers and badges.

However, despite all this activity as far as I am aware Stewart, Tony Lowes and John Berndt were the only individuals to strike. The ASAC (California) had always said that 'Art Strike was the worst idea ever' and yet it was much more attractive than the 'realistic' ideas it opposed.

Minimal involvement in most of the theoretical discussions weakened the Art Strike's relevance to my everyday life. Of course, the value of any theory will fluctuate over a period of time. Many Art Strikers burned out on discussion after a while and lost their natural grasp of the issues involved. Nevertheless, I hope this book will lift its readers to heights of revolutionary ecstasy and the only efficient act of dissension suicide. Read and destroy.

Spellings and punctuation have been standardised throughout the text: e.g. in the case of US and Canadian writers, what was originally 'labor' has been rendered 'labour', 'ize' spellings are rendered 'ise' etc. Otherwise nothing has been altered. Factual inaccuracies have been left unfootnoted and as they stand a careful reading of the whole text will clarify most of these.

James Mannox, London Summer 1991
for the Art Strike Action Committee (UK)

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