* *


According to Stewart Home, the Neoists were an eighties manifestation of an avant-garde tradition that agitates against the aesthetic and philosophical conceptions of the dominant culture. Neoism emerged from the post-punk and post-Fluxus movements in Canada and the USA. When Home broke with Neoism in 1985, he bequeathed to the movement the practice of idea theft - PLAGIARISM, the multiple name magazine SMILE and the multiple band TEENAGE PRICKS. For the past decade, the Neoist scene has been dominated by the post-situationist dogmas spread by this hard-working sloganeer.

But Home's historicisation has been criticised by first generation Neoists such as Dave Zack and Al Ackerman, indeed the originators of the movement dismiss Home's writing on their activities as completely ridiculous. In 1976 or 1979 - no one remembers the exact date - the term NEO replaced the term NOISM. NEOISM is a PREFIX and a SUFFIX which coupled together make no sense whatsoever. The Neoists wanted to recycle everything: the 1960s avant-garde (Fluxus, Minimal, Mail Art), and they were more interested in myth making and media manipulation than creating serious art works. The Neoists were pranksters, low-scale saboteurs similar to Fritz Teufel, Dieter Kunzelmann and the satirist Wolfgang Neuss, but with the crucial qualification that the Neoists were a thousand times more obscure.

Neoist events from the late seventies onwards were archetypal manifestations of eighties anti-anti-actionism that could be found in virtually any medium-sized town. The element of trash vulgarisation was consciously emphasised in so-called Apartment Festival, i.e.. nosh, fucking, drinking, watching videos and eagerness for media coverage. Every eighties performance artist wanted to be on TV, an attitude that both prefigured and influenced the demotic voicing and cheesy displays of contemporary 'young British art'. The NEOISTS were nothing more than neo-Dada buffoonery, intentionally set apart from all ideologies and emptied of any meaningful content. Five male Neoists caught gonorrhoea fucking the same - now famous - female art student during the Eighth International Apartment Festival in London. Sporadically, a threadbare post-Neoism raises its ugly head.

Today, the ex-Neoists tend towards the occult, mathematics and philosophy, particularly Frege and Gotthard Guenther. A turn away from actionism into the infinite depths of self-referentiality. A tiresome hide-and-seek game in the Internet. The Neoist Alliance, active in London since 1993, furthers - just like those mentioned above - the historification of this dead-on-arrival anti-art movement, and it consists of exactly one member. The truth is those crazy Neoists were a quarrelsome, lunatic bunch of uptights who can be divided into two antagonistic factions: either they are gay and suffer from an excess of the fraternity spirit, or despite reaching middle-age they are still to be found fondling seventeen year-old girls; Neoists are either excessive beef-eaters or strict vegetarians, uninhibited posers or bashful theorists. Here's a run down on the main figures.

Dr. Al Ackerman. For decades this sixty year-old Texan alcoholic made his living as an unqualified doctor in poverty hospitals. Today, the divorced family man and notorious Kentucky Fried Chicken eater works in a bookstore and has a 17-years-old girlfriend who he passes off as a runaway junkie to casual acquaintances.

Kiki Bonbon. In the late seventies this Canadian Neoist and his drinking buddies acted out a surreal existentialism. It consisted of living in run-down apartments, drinking day and night, only wearing clothing from the nearest Salvation Army store and reciting Andre Breton while standing completely naked on whatever apartment balcony afforded the greatest audience. Kiki suffered from a paranoid fear of being poisoned and regularly admitted himself to hospital to have his stomach pumped. Bonbon was very unpopular due to his staring role in Flying Cats, a Neoist snuff film in which kittens are thrown to their death from a tower block. Fat, jovial, fond of drink and teenage girls, communicative and completely bilingual, Bonbon is the perfect Franco-Canadian politician and has recently run for Mayor of Montreal on a Vote Here ticket.

Vittore Baroni. A former soccer player who now lives in Viareggio and trains teenagers aspiring to a sports career in three-sided football. For reasons that are completely unfathomable, Baroni hates the performance artist John Fare and has indulged in some truly bizarre anti-Fare activities. In Bologna. Baroni attacked the audience at a Fare film screening by driving through the window of the gallery and throwing mouldy tomatoes at the video screen from behind the wheel of his Fiat Uno.

David Zack. The most reality-detached being on this planet. A combination of diabetes and drug addiction led him to walk around with his guitar playing the same two chords over and over again while chanting 'Neooooiiiiiism, Neooooooiiiiiism, Neooooismm'. In the mid-eighties he moved to Mexico where after the death of his parents he got money by faking their signatures on welfare cheques. Eventually the fraud was discovered and Zack was thrown into a Mexican jail. Once inside Zack managed to break a lot of bones, medication was withdrawn and he died miserably in a run-down hospital near Chiuahua without ever seeing his Neoist brothers again.

tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE. Born plain Michael Tolson in Baltimore, he aspired to be both the high priest and court jester of Neoism but failed at both. Notorious for using video making as an excuse to flash his undersized dick around. More amusing is the representation of a cancerous cell tattooed in carcinogenic phosphorescent ink on tENT's leg. He likes girls pissing in his mouth so much that he based one of his ultra-low budget films on this particular sexual kick. tENT is also well known for beating up his girlfriends and trashing their apartments. A few years back when he was on the run from the IRS, tENT hooked up with a teenage girl from Munich who settled with him in the Toronto suburbs. She became pregnant and although the resultant baby died at the age of two weeks, it was such a freak that the corpse was examined by hundreds of Canadian medical students.

Stiletto. The most successful Neoist of the mid-eighties, this Berlin based designer hit the big time with the chairs he made from stolen supermarket trolleys. Realising there was more money on the management side of the business, in the nineties he switched the focus of his activities from production to agenting the work of other designers. However, this fifty per cent man isn't the breadhead his Berlin enemies make him out to be, he needs huge amounts of money to support the many children he's fathered by different women in London, Tokyo, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Sidney, Turin, Naples, Prague, Budapest and New York.

Alexander Brener. The Neoist's Neoist. As a gesture of disillusionment with all political systems, Moscow based Brener returned to Russia from Israel where he'd emigrated with his seventeen year old girlfriend. Brener's ethical avant-gardism led him to spray a green $ sign on Malevich's white on white painting Suprematism 1922-1927 which hung in the Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam. Brener's activities, like the paintings of Scottie Wilson, demonstrate that the only aesthetic category under which it makes any sense to subsume Neoism is outsider art.

John Berndt. The Baltimore based boy wonder of Neoism was kicked out of college in 1985 for spraying 'Neoism Now' on a dormitory wall. Returning home, he proceeded to share innumerable sex partners with tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE. He was also one of the numerous clap victims at the Berlin Apartment Festival in 1986 - redubbed the Syphilis Festival because of the nefarious activities of a Neoist groupie who gave nine male Neoists a dose. Even the notoriously uptight Istvan Kantor caught the pox and passed it on to his wife. Berndt and his girlfriend retired to the Swiss mountains to recover from the infection, where the teenage Neoist contracted severe sinusitis. It was in Switzerland that Berndt developed his taste for snotty sex - which includes everything from mutual snot-eating and using mucus as a lubricant during penetrative sex to smearing snot over his own body and that of his partner.

Istvan Kantor. The self-styled Hungarian Bob Dylan who was lured to the US. in the late seventies by Zack and Ackerman's promise that they'd make him a pop star. This gullible eccentric used his parent's connections as top communist party members to get out of Budapest on a student visa. Once Kantor arrived in Portland, the malicious Neoists introduced him to a retarded dwarf who they said would manage his music career. The dwarf hated Kantor's music and knew nothing about the entertainment industry. The naive exile waited a couple of months for the dwarf to organise some gigs before complaining in broken English to Zack and Ackerman that his manager was useless. After a few unsuccessful underground records and many unsuccessful live art performances, Kantor now lives in Toronto where he is raising a family with a little help from the generous Canadian welfare system. Neoist veteran Al Ackerman opines: 'Perhaps his children will educate him and somehow help him to become an adult'.

Florian Cramer. Publicist for Stewart Home, endlessly recycling his master's comparative studies of Neoism and the occult through the Internet. Home appreciates Cramer for his fastidious bourgeois approach to existence but all the other Neoists - most notable among them tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE - despise him for this.

Stewart Home. Wants to destroy the avant-garde, anarchist and occult scenes. Uses situationist tactics against the situationists. This non-stop producer is considered an egomaniac by all those he attacks: the KING MOB oldies, cyber hippie Hakim Bey, all the other Neoists, pro-situ-bystanders like John Zerzan and Bob Black, members of the British literary establishment such as Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie etc. There's hardly a day on which this industrious hooligan doesn't piss people off and spread false rumours for tactical reasons. After three years on Art Strike (1990-1993), Home sold both his archive and his bed to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. For Home, one of the best things about his success as a provocative political pornographer is the fact that he now has a harem of seventeen year-old girlfriends.

Pete Horobin. Dundee based and known within Neoist circles as Lawrence of Arabia for reasons we dare not go into here. However, here's a clue. At one Neoist Festival, Horobin and Stiletto woke Florian Cramer in the middle of the night and asked him to do them a favour. The young academic and Stewart Home acolyte steadfastly refused to hold a lemon in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other because this would have prevented him holding up the sleeping bag he was using to cover his manhood. This incident inspired Cramer's Sleep Deprivation Prank performance which years later transformed him into a Berlin cable tv sex star. Unfortunately, Horobin did not live to witness this transformation, the hardy Scot was last seen heading towards the North Pole at the very end of 1989. Since then he's been missing presumed dead.

Gordon W. A former Buddhist monk who joined the Neoists as a way of meeting teenage boys. Kicked out of High School for a dadaist performance that went wrong, W. relocated to Nepal where even his fellow monks found the Canadian's bullshit hard to stomach. These days W describes himself as a cook and has been responsible for innumerable outbreaks of food poisoning since relocating to Berlin. He has a conviction for assaulting a former boyfriend and is currently being tried for attacking a casual acquaintance.

Graf Haufen. The only Neoist to go on and found a business empire. He transformed his passion for women in prison movies and sixties sexploitation into the highly successful Videodrom shop chain and mail order operation. The Berlin Apartment Festival organised by Haufen was the only Neoist event to make a profit. Dubbed by participants the Syphilis Festival, it later emerged that Haufen had raked in extra ackers by charging a wealthy nymphomaniac with the clap a small fortune for introductions to bohemian artists. Haufen's tough business methods made him unpopular among other Neoists = who weren't won over by the argument that commerce was Haufen's way of rebelling against his hippie parents. Many Neoists considered it the last straw when Haufen published an anthology of Neoist writing and refused to provide the contributors with a complimentary copy of the book.

From Super! Bierfront July 1996

More on Neoism


Note: This is translated from a German language publication noted for its humour; the portraits of assorted neoists are caricatures, and where they depart from strict factual accuracy, this may or may not reveal a deeper truth.

Stewart Home water symphony

Stewart Home lives out the death of the avant-garde.

Istvan Kantor & nurse Blood Performance

Istvan Kantor didn't need to join the avant-garde, he was already dead!

Smile 10

Smile 8

Smile 7

Smile 2

Neoist Manifestos by Stewart Home cover

Neoism, Plagiarism & Praxis by Stewart Home cover

House of 9 Squares by Stewart Home & Florian Cramer books cover

Neoist peformance with placard

Pete Horobin Data card

Big Smile canvas by Istvan Kantor


The Assault On Culture by Stewart Home cover

Slow Death by Stewart Home cover