1986. Neoism Now

I got involved with Neoism in the fall of 1980. As it developed, I monitored its progress with rapt interest. At 1st, when it was largely Montréal based, there was a conspiratorial intensity to it. The addition of BalTimOre brought in the North American networks of the Krononautic Organism & the Church of the SubGenius.

When APT 8 happened in London, I initially felt like some of the conspiracy was getting lost, the younger Montréal Neoists had more or less dropped out & didn't attend. Nonetheless, collaborating with Pete Horobin, meeting Gyorgy Ladanyi there, & having Stewart Home arrive on the scene added some fresh momentum.

When APT 9 happened in Ponte Nossa, neither Monty Cantsin (Istvan Kantor) or I could attend (I was too broke) & I was starting to get the feeling that Neoism was being reduced to just-another-Mail-Art-thing.

When the next Neoist Festival, the Berlin APT 64 Festival, happened I was probably under the impression that the European take on Neoism was that it was just-another-Avant-Garde-movement that young artists could attach their name to to try to jump-start their Art World Career. I didn't get the impression that Neoism as a Cultural Conspiracy was being taken seriously. Once again, I couldn't afford to attend.

I did send Graf Haufen one of the Transparent SMILEs (see http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/SM1985.09.Transparent.html ) that I assembled, one of an edition of 100 of all transparencies (except for a print on seaweed) packaged in a 2 liter bottle altered to have a zipper-openable top. He then included an image of that in the book he put together as a document related to APT 64.

When I wrote to Graf asking him for a copy of "Neoism Now" he informed me that I'd have to buy one. That convinced me that the days of the conspiracy were over - or, at least, being undermined by the business-as-usual European Art World. Gone were the days of intensely interconnected conspirators eager to collaborate & trade publications for a common cause of subverting oppressive society; the day of Hey!-I-can-make-money-off-of-this! had arrived.

Nonetheless, Graf did produce something that lived up to its claim of being "The first Neoist Anthology and Sourcebook" & didn't copyright it AND he went on to publish at least 8 more Neoist publications of some substance.

Still, credit for eearlier Neoist books done much more in the spirit of community instead of business should probably go to Pete Horobin for the 3 books he created to document the 3 Neoist gatherings he'd participated in from 1982 to 1985: "The Neoist Network's First European Training Camp" (1982), "APT 8" (1984), & "the 9th neoist festival" (1985).

I didn't get copies of Haufen's publications until he apparently gave up on selling them a decade or 2 later & gave them all to Florian Cramer who then gave them to me.

In retrospect, I still think my critique of the tendency of some Europeans to treat Neoism as yet-another-Avant-Garde-movement in Art-World-business-as-usual holds true. Nonetheless, there's still something about Neoism that managed, even under Art-As-Business like conditions, to keep the chaos alive. As such, I'm now very fond of APT 8 & certainly regret being unable to participate in APTs 9 & 64.

- April 8, 2016EV notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE






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