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Jean Toche:
Towards a New Humanism

Art is guilty of the worst sort of crime against human beings: silence. Art is satisfied with being an aesthetic/machinery, satisfied with being a continuum of itself and its so-called history, while in fact it has become the supreme instrument through which our repressive society idealizes its own image. Art is used today to distract people from the urgency of their crisis. Art is used today to force people to accept more easily the repression of big business. Museums and cultural institutions are the sacred temples where the artists who collaborate in such manipulations and cultivate such idealization are sanctified. Art is today the highest symbol of the dehumanized process of business, and art which shows the repression of our society is automatically suppressed. Artists have become the celebrated buffoons of society's manipulators. Through dehumanization art has become devitalized; in most of the arts practiced today the very substance of emotion is purposely lacking. Emotion instead of being expressed, is being suppressed!

What do you think art is all about? Is it some sort of mythical abstract commodity that is traded on the market and guarded by the police? How can it be that art needs police protection? Only "valuable" posessions, property and money are given police protection - is that what art must be? Is property more valuable than life and freedom? Shouldn't art relate to life and freedom rather than property? Shouldn't the artist be concerned with basic emotional, psychological and moroi crises that confront us all? How can an artist be relevant when his art deals only with the business of art? How can we be concerned solely with a big white stripe across a white canvas, or a gigantic sculpture of a dollar bill, or the aesthetic relation of a colored sheet of metal on the floor, or the concept of a railway track leading nowhere in the desert, while we are faced with the slaughters of Songmys and Fred Hamptons?

Let's make no mistake. The artist is as guilt-y as the businessman. Through the production of an art commodity, the artist himself has become a businessman. In order to market his commodity and increase its value he must create a mystique about himself and his work. The gallery is the means through which the commodity is dispersed. The museum serves the purpose of sanctifying both the commodity and the artist. The collector is the stock-speculator. The corporation patrons use the commodity as a sanctifi-cation and sanitization of their image. The art magazines are the trade journals, the financial reports of the art world. And the critic serves the function of the whip-hand for all.

The artist has evolved from selling objects to collectors to showing costly technological environments subsidized by big business as a way to better their image, to finally simply selling ideas to the highest bidder. The artist has become a public relations man, the secret agent of business to subvert culture. The motivation of art as commodity is so strongly ingrained that artists today accept without blinking an eye the financial support of corporations and governments involved in human destruction and manipulation. Yes, the artist is as guilty of murder as the businessman.

Source: Lurie, Boris; Krim, Seymour: NO!art, Cologne 1988

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ABOUT JEAN TOCHE: Born in 1932, in Bruges, Belgian. Moved to New York in 1965. In the early seventies he created the GUERILLA ART ACTION GROUP together with Jon Hendricks and organized actions and happenings directly attacking and provoking the New Yorker art-establishment. Involved in political mail art under the title OF PISS@N'PUSS. more

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