Stewart Home  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Stewart Home (born 1962) is a writer, subcultural pamphleteer, underground art historian, and activist. His mother, Julia Callan-Thompson, was a model and hostess who was associated with the radical arts scene in Notting Hill Gate. She knew such people as the writer and situationist Alexander Trocchi. Stewart was put up for adoption soon after his birth.

Home is probably best known for his parodistic pulp fictions Pure Mania, Red London, No Pity, Cunt, and Defiant Pose that pastiche the work of 1970s British skinhead pulp novel writer Richard Allen and combine it with pornography, political agit-prop, and historical references to punk rock and avant-garde art. In the 1980s and 1990s, he also wrote a large number of non-fiction pamphlets, magazines, and books. They chiefly reflected the politics of the radical left, punk culture, the occult, the history of Situationism - of which he is a severe critic - and other radical left-wing 20th century anti-art avant-garde movements. Often at the focal point of these reflections was Neoism, a subcultural network of which he had been a member, and from which he derived various splinter projects. The constant characteristics of his activism in the 1980s and 1990s were:

  • The use of group identities (such as Luther Blissett) and collective monikers (e.g. "Karen Eliot").
  • Overt and up-front employment of plagiarism.
  • Occasionally, pranks and publicity stunts.

Contents

History of activities

1980s

As a youth Home was drawn to anarchism, and was part of the editorial team of Anarchy Magazine. He later repudiated anarchism as reactionary, and professed communist political positions. From 1982 to 1983, Home operated as a one-person-movement "Generation Positive", founded a punk band called White Colours and published an art fanzine SMILE, the name of which was a play on the Mail Art zines FILE and VILE (which in turn parodied the graphic design of LIFE magazine). The concept was that many other bands in the world should call themselves White Colours, and many other underground periodicals should call themselves SMILE, too. Home's early SMILE magazines mostly contained art manifestos for the "Generation Positive", which in their rhetoric resembled those of 1920s Berlin Dadaist manifestos.

In 1983, Home got in touch with the originally American subcultural artistic network of Neoism, and participated in the eighth Neoist Apartment Festival in London. Since Neoism operated with multiple identities, too, and called upon all its participants to adopt the name Monty Cantsin, Home decided to give up the "Generation Positive" in favor of Neoism, and make SMILE and White Colours part of Neoism as well. One year later, Home took a sleep-deprivation prank played with him at a Neoist Festival in Italy as the reason to declare his split from Neoism; shortly before, a conflict between him and Neoism founder Istvan Kantor had escalated and led to their alienation.

Home's SMILE no 8, which appeared in 1984, reflected the split with Neoism by proposing a "Praxis" movement to replace Neoism, with Karen Eliot as its new multiple name. This and the following three SMILE issues otherwise featured an eclectic mixture of manifesto-style writing, political reflections on radical left-wing anti-art movements from the Lettrist International, Situationism, Fluxus, Mail Art, invididuals such as Gustav Metzger and Henry Flynt, and short parodistic skinhead pulp prose in the style of his later novels. Many texts included in Home's SMILE issues plagiarised other, especially Situationist, writing, simply replacing terms like "spectacle" with "glamour".

Drawing from 1980s American appropriation art, Home's concept of plagiarism soon developed into a proposed movement and a series of "Festivals of Plagiarism" in 1988 and 1989, which themselves plagiarised the Neoist apartment festivals and 1960s Fluxus festivals. Home combined the plagiarism campaign with a call for an Art Strike between 1990 and 1993. Unlike earlier art-strike proposal like that of Gustav Metzger in the 1960s, it was not only directed against art institutions, but called upon artists to give up entirely any artistic activity in the three years of the strike. Both the plagiarism and Art Strike campaigns had little or no resonance in the contemporary art world, and happened largely outside its debates and institutions. They were, however, strongly discussed in subcultural art networks, especially in Mail Art. Consequently, mail artists made up the participants of the Festivals of Plagiarism, and Mail Art publications disseminated the Art Strike campaign.

To what extent Home actually participated in the Art Strike remains disputed, since two of his books, completed allegedly before 1990, appeared during the period of the strike.

1990s

In 1994 Home officially resurfaced, having meanwhile gained an influence and reputation in European and American counter-culture comparable to writers like Hakim Bey and Kathy Acker. Aside from reassessments of his earlier engagement with Neoism, Situationist International, punk, and the plagiarism and Art Strike campaigns, and, as his source of income, the continued parodistic pulp-novel writing, Home's style had undergone some significant changes. While his late 1980s pamphleteering could be viewed as an, albeit subtly humorous, project to collect and fuse radical energies from aesthetically uncompromising extreme left-wing fringes of art and politics, Home reinvented himself in the 1990s as a cynical satirist and jester. In the Art Strike years, he had for the first time occupied himself with hermeticism and the occult. The Neoist Alliance, his third one-person-movement after The Generation Positive and Praxis, served simultaneously as a tactical reappropriation of the Neoism label for self-promotional purposes, and as a corporate identity for pamphlets that satirically advocated a combination of artistic avant-garde, the occult, and politics into an "avant-bard".

Books

Home's first books, which appeared between 1988 and 1995, are essentially an outgrowth and elaboration of his earlier SMILE writings, though without their fragmentary-aphoristic character and eclectic mix of genres. The Assault on Culture, originally written but rejected as a B.A. thesis, is an underground art history sketching Home's ultimately personal history of ideas and influences in post-World War II fringe radical art and political currents, and including – for the first time in a book – a tactically manipulated history of Neoism (including character assassinations of individual Neoist) that was continued in the later book Neoism, Plagiarism and Praxis. Despite its highly personal perspective and agenda, The Assault on Culture: Utopian currents from Lettrisme to Class War (Aporia Press and Unpopular Books, London, 1988) is considered a useful art-history work, providing an introduction to a range of cultural currents which had, at that time at least, been under-documented. Like Home's other publications of that time, it played an influential part in renewing interest in the Situationist International.

Pure Mania, Home's first novel from 1989, took the recipe of the Richard Allen parodies from SMILE and turned them into a recipe for his subsequent novel writing. The book Neoist Manifestos/The Art Strike Papers featured, on its first part, abridged versions of Home's manifesto-style writings from SMILE, and a compilation of writings and reactions regarding the Art Strike from various authors and sources, mainly Mail Art publications.

His 1995 novel Slow Death fictionalises and ridicules this process of the historification of Neoism (including the planting of archives at the Victoria and Albert Museum; this recently became reality when Home sold the V&A his own archive on Neoism) as if to give his own game away but, typically with Home, as soon as one agenda has, apparently, been exposed, whether Home's own or one at large, the game moves on so that he constantly forces readers into a position of 'Should I believe any of this?'.

Although Home staged a number of pranks and publicity stunts, such as leading a "psychic attack" on the Brighton Pavilion during a Stockhausen concert, and occasionally also played punk rock and exhibited visual art work, he has been chiefly a writer, and a performer only to a lesser degree. His skinhead looks and attitude on official photographs are much more publicity poses than apt images of Home's rather soft-spoken and introverted personality. Home's influence on Western subcultures remains closely tied to his books and the authority of the printed word, and has decreased ever since counterculture has moved to the Internet as its primary medium.

With the publication of his novel 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess (Canongate, Edinburgh 2002), Home has finally got the British literary press sitting up and taking notice, ironically of a book which carries his most acidic condemnations of the literary and cultural establishment.

Repression in Russia

Alex Kervey of Tough Press, publishers of the Russian edition of Come Before Christ and Murder Love has reported repression of the book as "pornography and insulting Christian values". Kervey says this is happening in the context of a campaign run by such far-right groups as the National Bolsheviks against Home, which has included arson attacks against Tough Press alongside state censorship.

Bibliography

Novels

  • Pure Mania (Polygon, Edinburgh 1989. Finnish translation Like, Helsinki 1994. German translation Nautilus, Hamburg 1994).
  • Defiant Pose (Peter Owen, London 1991. Finnish translation Like, Helsinki 1995. German translation, Nautilus, Hamburg 1995). Some of the action of this novel takes place on the Samuda Estate
  • Red London (AK Press, London & Edinburgh 1994; Finnish translation Like, Helsinki 1995).
  • Slow Death (Serpent's Tail, London 1996. Finnish translation Like, Helsinki 1996) ISBN-13: 978-1852425197
  • Blow Job (Serpent's Tail, London 1997. Finnish translation, Like, Helsinki 1996. Greek translation Oxys Publishing, Athens 1999. German translation, Nautilus, Hamburg, 2001).
  • Come Before Christ and Murder Love (Serpent's Tail, London 1997).
  • Cunt (Do-Not Press, London 1999) ISBN-13: 978-1899344451
  • Whips & Furs: My Life as a bon-vivant, gambler & love rat by Jesus H. Christ (Attack Books, London 2000).
  • 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess (Canongate, Edinburgh, 2002) ISBN-13: 978-1841953533
  • Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton (Do-Not Press, London 2004).
  • Tainted Love (Virgin Books, London 2005).
  • Memphis Underground (Snowbooks, London 2007).

Stories

  • No Pity (AK Press, London & Edinburgh 1993. Finnish translation Like, Helsinki 1997).

Non-fiction

  • The Assault on Culture: Utopian currents from Lettrisme to Class War (Aporia Press and Unpopular Books, London, 1988) ISBN 0-948518-88-X (New edition AK Press, Edinburgh 1991. Polish translation, Wydawnictwo Signum, Warsaw 1993. Italian translation AAA edizioni, Bertiolo 1996. Portuguese translation, Conrad Livros, Brazil 1999. Spanish translation, Virus Editorial, 2002).
  • Neoist Manifestos (AK Press, Edinburgh 1991).
  • Cranked up Really High: Genre Theory And Punk Rock (Codex, Hove 1995, new edition 1997. Italian translation Castelvecchi, Rome 1996) (an 'inside account' of the history of punk rock).
  • Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Diversions: A Collection of Lies, Hoaxes and Hidden Truths (Sabotage Editions, London 1995).
  • Green Apocalypse (a critique of the magazine and organisation Green Anarchist) with Luther Blissett (Unpopular Books, London 1995).
  • Analecta (Sabotage Editions, London 1996).
  • Neoism, Plagiarism and Praxis (AK Press, London, Edinburgh 1995. Italian translation Costa & Nolan Genoa 1997).
  • The House of Nine Squares: Letters On Neoism, Psychogeography And Epistemological Trepidation, with Florian Cramer (Invisible Books London 1997).
  • Disputations on Art, Anarchy and Assholism (Sabotage Editions, London 1997).
  • Out-Takes (Sabotage Editions, London 1998).
  • Confusion Incorporated: A Collection Of Lies, Hoaxes & Hidden Truths (Codex, Hove 1999).
  • Repetitions: A Collection of Proletarian Pleasures Ranging from Rodent Worship to Ethical Relativism Appended with a Critique of Unicursal Reason (Sabotage Editions, London 1999).
  • Anamorphosis: Stewart Home, Searchlight and the plot to destroy civilization (Sabotage Editions, London 2000).
  • Jean Baudrillard and the Psychogeography of Nudism (Sabotage Editions, London 2001).
  • Fasting on SPAM and Other Non-aligned Diets for Our Electronic Age (Sabotage Editions, London 2002).
  • The Intelligent Person's Guide to Changing a Lightbulb (Sabotage Editions, London 2005).
  • The Correct Way to Boil Water (Sabotage Editions, London 2005).
  • The Easy Way to Falsify Your Credit Rating (Sabotage Editions, London 2005).

As editor

  • Festival of Plagiarism Ed., (Sabotage Editions, London, 1989)
  • Art Strike Handbook Ed., (Sabotage Editions, London, 1989)
  • What is Situationism? A Reader Ed., (AK Press Edinburgh and San Francisco, 1996) ISBN 978-1-873176-13-9 .
  • Mind Invaders: A Reader in Psychic Warfare, Cultural Sabotage And Semiotic Terrorism Ed. (Serpent's Tail London, 1997).
  • Suspect Device: Hard-Edged Fiction (Serpent's Tail, London 1998).

Spoken word and music CDs

  • Comes in Your Face (Sabotage, London 1998).
  • Cyber-Sadism Live! (Sabotage, London 1998).
  • Pure Mania (King Mob, London 1998).
  • Marx, Christ & Satan United in Struggle (Molotov Records 1999).

Funded Internet projects

  • MONGREL (1998 organised by Graham Harwood & Matt Fuller, funded by the Arts Council).
  • TORK RADIO (1998 organised by Cambridge Junction, funded with lottery money).

One man art shows

  • HUMANITY IN RUINS, Central Space (London February/March 1988).
  • VERMEER II, workfortheeyetodo (London July to September 1996).

Short film and videos

  • Ut Pictura Poesis (1997, 35 mm, part of project organised by Cambridge Junction with Arts Council funding).
  • The Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Oedipus Complex (2004, video)
  • Numerous videos including promos for books COME BEFORE CHRIST & MURDER LOVE (1997), RED LONDON (1994) & NO PITY (1993)

Neoist Alliance

Group moniker used by Stewart Home between 1994 and 1999 as a corporate identity for his mock-occult psychogeographical activities. According to Home, the Neoist Alliance was an occult order with himself as the magus and only member. The manifesto of the Neoist Alliance called for "debasement in the arts" and parodistically plagiarized a 1930s British fascist pamphlet on cultural politics.

Home's Neoist Alliance activities mainly consisted of the publication of a newsletter "Re-action" which appeared in ten issues between 1994 and 1999[1].

In 1993, the Neoist Alliance staged a prank against a concert of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in Brighton by announcing [2] its intention to levitate the concert hall by magical means during the concert[3]. This was a plagiarist homage to the 1965 anti-art picketing of a Stockhausen concert in New York through Fluxus members Henry Flynt and George Maciunas [4].

The Neoist Alliance activities ran parallel and were closely related to those of the revived London Psychogeographical Association and the Italian-based Luther Blissett project. In 1998, these projects founded - although more in fiction than in fact - a New Lettrist International.

Despite its name, the Neoist Alliance had no affiliation to the international Neoist network which had been active since 1980. Stewart Home had previously become a member and activist of that network in 1983, but renounced it one year later and subsequently worked under the collective monikers of "Praxis", later "plagiarism" and the Art Strike movement. Returning from the 1990-1993 Art Strike, he resumed referring to his own activities as Neoism, this time however using it for a play with the occult and hermeticism rather than with modern art avant-garde movements. The Neoist Alliance moniker thus was used to show that Neoism could be multiple unrelated movements at once, or even a practical philosophy detached from any particular network of people.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stewart Home" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools