A few months ago I jokingly started the Artists Against Wankers Action Group (AAWAG) after experiencing a particularly harsh social environment at an exhibition opening. The reason? Too many art wankers. Some friends immediately expressed interest in the group and since then I have always been toying in my head with the idea of making AAWAG more of a reality.
Well, recently, I needed to write an essay for a theory paper at art school. There were various options on topics to base a discussion around, one of them being to write an artists manifesto, fictional or not. “A manifesto?” I thought to myself. “Why, I could make one for AAWAG. I have discussed it with supporters of the idea and have all the main points already, I just need to write them down.” It really was a great idea as I could have it critically assessed by my theory tutor who has semi-fame among the US art critic world for his writings. I wrote it and handed it in. I wasn’t expecting an amazing mark, after all, ‘wanker’ is slang and I did make up a word specifically for the manifesto; not usually good things to do at university level. Anyway, I waited for the three-week turn around and when my manifesto was handed back I got… an A!? I couldn’t believe it! The professor even smiled while he handed it to me saying, “haha, and a very amusing read!” We talked after that for a little bit about how my manifesto reminded him of The Yes Men, we then trailed off to talk about adopting persona’s that are not your own. After that he said that we shouldn’t be kept inside on such a lovely day and said we could leave after about 10 minutes of class. He’s a pretty awesome dude, really. Probably my favourite theory tutor I’ve ever had, an amazing wealth of knowledge, too. A lot of us reckon he looked like Jesus until he shaved off his beard. Whatever, enough with that! His mark gave me a bit of confidence so I decided to make a little zine of my manifesto; a zineifesto! Otherwise I wouldn’t have even considered publishing it, I just don’t trust my critical writing skills. Creative? Yes. Critical? No.
So basically the AAWAG manifesto is based around the group’s theory of why there are art wankers, why we don’t like them, who they are and what you can do about if in terms of our goal. The goal? Get a copy and read it for yourself. I’m not re-writing it!
See this short review by a famous US art critic:
“A very imaginative and thorough going manifesto on the prevailing problem of pesky “wankers” in art circles...”
This is the first zine I’ve made with a computer. Arrgh, let it be a long time til that happens again! But really, it’s just too many words to write on a typewriter, more than a couple thousand. I’d have bare bones if I did that! It doesn’t really matter, this zine is about the content of the writing, not the aesthetics. The only picture is that one on the front of a mate with a plastic bag on his head giving the thumbs up. He’s being a wanker, I suppose. A wanker to someone, anyway. Not me.
If you haven’t read the McGillicuddy Serious Party 1999 Manifesto then I suggest maybe you do. MGSP is a satirical political party that used to operate in New Zealand. I have a hard copy of the manifesto (of which I paid for partly with 2 cent pieces, out of circulation since the 70's. Awesome!), but you can see it online here: