Wrote an article about Destructivist activities on a social, personal and artistic level
Here is the first section:
Joel Cahen (2012)
With our present day awareness, the arts as we have known them up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops. They are an illusion with which, by human hand and by way of fraud, materials such as print, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance, so that, instead of just presenting their own material self, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.
Jiro Yoshihara – Expropriated from The Gutai Manifesto (1956)
‘Love the fact that we humans begin our attack with such ferocity only to be worn down 2mins later. Very un-ape like. Then with our limp limbs and unable to singlehandedly destroy we form teams to increase the damage caused. It was great to at long last depreciate our attachment to stuff and learn just how difficult it is to destroy them…. Initially it felt gladiatorial but consumed by so much lack of brawn, the bashing does become emotional, sometimes I was sad for some objects, but in truth it was probably the most passion I ever gave to them – wonderful.’
– Stephen (text message following Scrap Club 11Sep11)
For myself, the burning of the harpsichord didn’t so much symbolise a jettisoning of the past, as it did a release of the incessant clinging to tradition (any tradition) to the degree that it stems creativity and responsiveness in the present. To be honest, the burning of the harpsichord was perhaps the most creative (and honest) act that I could contribute with the instrument at that point in my practice. – Bill Thompson (on his Harpiscord Burning piece 2006)
‘It was orgasmic! I felt totally empowered!’ – Miklos (text message following Scrap Club 11Sep11)
‘It is the denaturing and abstraction of the actual experience of destruction that is the triumph of the technology of that destruction. In this situation, great care must be exercised to prevent theoretical abstractions from becoming part of the suppression of actual experience that culminates in the denial of identity altogether. Such denials conspire in the destruction of bodies and are the unforgivable consequence of mistaking the map for the territory’
– Kristine Stiles Ph.D. ‘Selected Comments on Destruction Art’ – Book for Unstable Media (1992)
The following text presents questions, possible answers, and tangential thoughts that have surfaced to mind throughout the last five years (since April 2007) of staging the public Destructivist activity that is Scrap Club. It began as an idea shared with Wajid Yaseen as a response to a re-enactment of an Einstürzende Neubauten performance at the ICA in which we both participated in Feb 2007. On stage we were using heavy tools such as a banyorammer, drills, angle grinders and hammers to play a scored sonic action. The destructive element of the action was appealing in itself, in fact it was exhilarating. We resolved that everyone should experience that, and a sober view of the extensive surplus of defunct objects on the streets proved that there was no lack of stuff to smash.
Over the next five years we have set up 15 public Scrap Club events, in warehouses, open spaces, clubs, galleries, festivals and on the street, in London, Amsterdam and Newcastle. The response was impressive in the way it touched the participants across ages, genders and characters. There was more to it than mindless aggressive expression. Participants revealed a core value in their expression of focussed and intentional destruction. Intentional destruction, hereafter referred to as Destructivist, is such a powerful dynamic in society, yet often debatable in its true motive. It is associated with offensive violence, vandalism and chaos, yet also with constructive and creative processes, it is how the destructive forces in nature express themselves through human action. By framing the direct experience of destruction in such an explicit manner and without any pretence other than its physical expression, can the human destructive dynamic be interrogated before it accumulates prescribed meaning? Will this process clarify the motives for destructive actions in culture, society and between people?