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A Stuckist Manifesto


The Stuckists (est. 1999)
The first Remodernist art group

The Stuckists' critique of the critics

1. The critic's job is to see the true nature of what is placed before them with clarity, not to have less insight than a six year old or a greengrocer.

2. The critic needs to have as much integrity, independence and daring as an artist should have - unfortunately neither of them do.

3. It is very tempting for artists to think that anything they do is special simply because they have done it. It is the critic's job to remind them that this is not the case. Or, in this instance, it is our job to remind the critic that what he has done is not special at all.

4. In order to satisfy his craving for inclusion in the celebrity glow of art star circles, the critic must pander to the inflated and deluded egos that grant admission.

5. It should be mandatory for critics to declare any conflict of interest in their work, e.g. Time Out should carry a statement that Sarah Kent writes catalogue essays for The Saatchi Gallery and J. Jopling's White Cube Gallery.

6. The most foolish critic is the critic afraid of appearing foolish.

7. Conceptual art has so little to say in itself that its only achievement of meaning is the inspiration of a very low level of poetry in the critic.

8. As Contemporary art is primarily about the materials from which it is made, the critic is satisfied to analyse the mechanism of the manufacturing process and pretend that something else is going on. Colluding with the artist in a joint need to appear cool and fashionable, the critic is reduced to the role of a describer of the blatantly obvious.

9. Contemporary art critics are not art critics.

10. A major current critical fallacy is to assume that the display of an object, which is an intrinsic part of an experience, in any way interprets a theme or deals with the issue of that experience. A dead shark displayed as an art work does not tell us anything about death (or for that matter about sharks), that we would not know through the ordinary experience of seeing a dead shark, completely regardless of its art context. A dead shark in a tank of formaldehyde doesn't address the issue of death: it is just dead. The only possible comment that it makes is that to be dead is like being in a contemporary art gallery.

11. Neither the contemporary artist nor the contemporary critic is prepared to communicate anything of relevance or value to human life outside the narrow confines of the art world.

12. Many people see so - called contemporary art in a gallery but it seems to them to be nothing but a pile of rubbish. However, because it is in a gallery and has been taken seriously by the critics, these people conclude that it can't be rubbish, that they have missed the point and they are stupid. We have good news for these people: they are not.

13. As an exercise in imagination, think of any object, place it in Tate Modern, or the British Art Show, and imagine a critical response. Some of our favourite objects for such analysis are a wellington boot, a door handle, a stack of bricks, a fresh car accident, a television set showing the South Bank Show, and the contents of a cess pit.

14. Critics assume that they are the interpreters of sensibility, when they are merely intellectualisers of it. Talking about sensibility is not experiencing sensibility. Anyone experiencing with sensibility would be incapable of writing with such convinced delusion.

15. Critical dominance has reduced art to an intellectual exercise. This has had a very damaging effect on the sensibility of artists who naturally seek critical acclaim and are susceptible to such bullying because they are usually intellectually inferior. (We are rare exceptions.)

16. Looking is a material experience; seeing, a cultural experience and perceiving, a spiritual experience; a definition of true art (and hence true criticism) is an alignment of all three.

17. Seeing that critics invariably back the wrong horse it would be wise for them to champion what they denounce and denounce what they champion. This has never been truer than today when the almost universal critical consensus has been to elevate Pollock, Warhol and Hirst, to the level genius.

18. Today's critics display a disgraceful cowardice.

19. Today's critics, mindful that critics in the past have criticised the wrong thing and ended up looking ridiculous, think that they have outwitted the ironies of history by praising all manner of rubbish. But just because genius has been called rubbish it does not necessarily follow that rubbish is genius.

The end

Billy Childish
Charles Thomson

Published by The Hangman Bureau of Enquiry
11 Boundary Road
Kent ME4 6TS