Current Manifesto Version

Presented on the occasion of the Arena Festival Seminar, at 6pm on Friday 7th November 2008 at The Great Meeting, Unitarian Church, Leicester.

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How to be a.a.s.

A warning to the unwary:
Our advice will not make you rich. It will not make you famous or rise in the hierarchy of the art world.
It may or may not give you the respect of your peers, depending on who your peers are.

It will however provide you with a manifesto for a certain kind of practice, one that finds it's own way, however perverse that might be.

1. Commit to contradictory ideals

Find something you love and destroy it.
Find something you believe in and tear it to pieces.
Find something you hate and become it.

Steal the thoughts of your idols, then stutter them back at them, full of mistakes and halts. Do not be afraid of looking stupid - it is in fact what you want the most.

Do not be fooled by what you think you are; test it at every opportunity; change it at every opportunity. Resist the singular, embrace the multiple.

2. Use irrational methods

Find what is fashionable and run away from it.
Find what is unfashionable, overlooked and celebrate it wholeheartedly.

Don't do anything the easy way. If you notice something is becoming familiar and smooth it's must be roughened up, twisted, made awkward.

As you gain experience, throw it away, it is like waste to be discarded to make room for new patterns and connections.

3. Don't give the audience what they want

Remember there is no such thing as an audience - you should not passively consume art as if it's entertainment. Art only exists when you give yourself to it.

Be brutal, unforgiving, demanding.
Be lowbrow and populist or elitist and obscure at inappropriate times.
Be invisible when everyone wants a spectacle, and grotesque when restraint is required.

Depend completely on participants to activate projects. Thrust responsibility on them, without explaining what they're meant to do. Most will disappear before you even start. Some will take part grudgingly. A few will have their lives changed. You're doing this for them.

4. Present yourselves uncomfortably

Never settle for being an identity, a group, a fixed set of people, something that means the same thing from day to day. Resist being branded at all costs (except by your own empty symbology). As soon as people think they know who you are and what you do, change, but don't let on.

Act like it's always been that way. Perhaps it has.