Prologue Print
Written by Redas Diržys   

The earliest use of the term 'art strike'   

"Let us have no illusions about it: most "art critics" are going to carry on as if art were not abolished, as if art couldn't be abolished; most "artists" are going to continue to believe in the "artistic" character of their production; most gallery-goers, art lovers and, of course, buyers are going to ignore the fact that the abolition of art can really occur in the actual time and space. It is essential that the minority advocate the necessity of going on an active art strike, using the "machines" of the cultural industry so that we can more effectively set it in total contradiction with itself.                     

The intention is not to end the role of production, but to change the most adventurous part of "artistic" production into the production of revolutionary ideas, forms and techniques. Thus it is not a question of revolting against the art and artists of the immediate past - that would be a waste of time and energy - but, as I have said, of imagining something that could penetrate all social classes and organizing a total, creative reappraisal of our society.                                           

The revolution no longer has any frontiers; it must be thought out, it must be prepared everywhere - in all the sectors where man expends passion and energy to do what he does, else it will never triumph anywhere." - Alain Jouffroy 

("What's To Be Done About Art?" by Alain Jouffroy; included in "Art and Confrontation: France and the arts in an age of change" edited by Jean Cassou, Studio Vista, London 1970) 

  So far the conference is held to prepare the base for the upcoming striking events under the title Art Strike Biennial 2009 I found out relevant to present my position towards the whole structure of the event planned. That would be an answer to the question why some of the issues are included into the conference and how it could be related to each other.


First of all I would like to give a reference to the practices whose already happen and also towards the whole concept of the subject called „Art Strike“. Looking at it retrospectively it seems that major of the activities done under the title were based on the endurance of the artists themselves to resist temptation to do what he actually loves to do and to stretch it on the particular period of time. All speculations related to the destructive consequences to the art system and art marked remained just speculations. The practices how artists treated their period without doing art also were build up in the logic of the art work what eventually lead it to be accepted by the art world. I would call the process conceptualization and my position is to treat the concept of the arts strike more as a tool instead of trying to follow the requirements of the concept and its logic. So far I found out the first mentioning of the idea by Alain Jouffroy very relevant for today so far we know other practices in the field as well (those by Gustav Metzger and Stewart Home with Neoists). That is the subject preplanned to be discussed in the first part of the conference.

I also would like to give short introduction into the (pre)history of Alytus Biennial what was very consistent moving towards the general critique of the whole concept of the show and biennial in particular. I want to show the process of conducting the structure into its self-destruction. 

The second part of conference would be based on the practical issues of the artistic attempts to resist the system in contemporary conditions. This part is of the discussion i would important as dialogue between two parts of my proposed diagram for the art strike biennial - Critique, mock and sabotage of established forms of “serious culture”– the sequence of “cultural capitals”


an asylum for the artists who cannot quit doing arts.

I am sure that the problems cannot be viewed somehow separated and that will be important to keep the position through all the activities during the art strike events. 

Third part of the conference and especially the discussion afterwards is planned to give as much as possible intersections of those above mentioned approaches (conceptual, critical, practical and based on the local specifics) at different levels.

Redas Diržys


REDAS DIRŽYS is an artist, teacher, critic and activist working major in the field of visual arts. Currently he is running an initiative of art strike technologies as applied directly into the structures of the „Serious culture“. Since 1993 he is running unofficial initiatives of various locally based art events which eventually got a shape of Alytus biennial. Since 1995 he is a head of Alytus Art School.