Saturday, April 07, 2007
Cheap Art Manifesto
I remember the small of straw the most. There was also a summer mix of dust, sun-heated asphalt, car exhaust, pine, freshly cut (and trampled) grass. And the press of hundreds, if not thousands of bodies, as we milled about the Vermont countryside to watch the many puppet shows that made up Bread & Puppets Annual Domestic Resurrection Circus - something i had been attending religiously since 1982. It was probably 1986 or 1987 when i discovered the cheap art bus for the first time. I don't know if i'd simply missed it previously amidst the over-stimulation of this annual puppet carnival. But i'll always remember squeezing into that old school bus for the first time and seeing the "cheap" art. I'm sure i bought an armload. There were posters painted on cardboard and 'zines and more. But more than the items i took away, i walked out of that bus a different person, for i had seen the truth of the manifesto that you can read here (click on the image to see it bigger). That i am a huge fan of Bread & Puppet is not news to those that know me. But as i think back on my journeys of the 1980s it seems more and more to me like my own odyssey across a mythic landscape. From the dimly remembered land of my childhood in Acadia and Montreal (which seems more mythical than real) to the voyage to the edge of the world to see a land held by the tyrant Baby Doc, to the catacombs of the McGill Daily newspaper where i toiled not unlike Theseus trying to find his way out of Daedalus' treacherous labyrinth, to the magical land of Peter Schumann who, like Circe, transformed humans into all manner of beasts (i was a unicorn once), to the presence of all manner of goddesses who gave me many gifts. Hmmm. Rich years that live in me still. Odysseus took ten years to travel home - i wonder where i'm headed. Regardless, it is a great trip and this manifesto has been one of the steady guides to my imagination for over 20 years now. I like manifestos. They are a special kind fo poetry. And this one is as fresh now as when it was written and i share it with the growing world of art activism.