PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS is an ongoing curatorial and publishing project collecting and commissioning contemporary artists manifestos and works inspired by the manifesto format.
To date the project has published two zines (Issue 1, Nov 2012. Issue 2 Nov 2013) and formed three exhibitions (Banner Repeater, London 12 – 27 November 2012, AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, 2 May – 7 June 2014 and Exeter Phoenix 23 June – 7 March 2015)
‘Racing around a fireball is a blob of filth on which ladies stockings are sold and Gauguins prized, truly a most deplorable business…’
WALTER SERNER, 1918
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS has been conceived as a collection of contemporary artists manifestos. Celebrating the somewhat foolish idea of declaring your intentions to the world with the hope of changing it…
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS Is a tragi-comedy of baroque minimalist clownery, grandiose and ill conceived in the extreme…
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS Is like an over stuffed letterbox at election time and a landfill of a publication.
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS Embraces all the half-baked ideas, dead ends and prejudiced rants that make artists manifestos wondrous artworks in themselves.
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS Accepts the paucity of the written word and in an unbridled display of generosity has included images made in the spirit of the manifesto.
If art critics behave like naturalists trying to ascertain an artist’s complexity from a small sample of their droppings, then PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS is a smorgasbord of odorous delights.
– Doyle and Mallinson
Patricia Ellis, A.S.P, Ami Clarke, Tanja Ritterbex, Sarah Lucas, Benedict Drew, Pat Rock, Jessica Voorsanger, Stewart Home , Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson, Dean Kenning, Jennet Thomas, David Blandy, Mathieu Beausejour, Shane Bradford, Mark Pearson, Mark Beasley, Colin Lowe, Cedar Lewisohn, Martin Erik Andersen, Simon Fujiwara, Clunie Reid.
Launched 12 November 2012 at Banner Repeater, London
Billy Childish and Harry Adams, Leigh Clarke (front cover), Leslie Deere, Arnaud Desjardin, Plastique Fantastique, Anna Frances, Oona Grimes, Lucy Harrison, Emma Hart, Emma Holmes, kennardphillips, Peter Lamb, Abigail Lane, Natalia Mali, Harriet Murray, Richard Paul, Neil Taylor, Alice Walton.
Launched at the Art Party Conference, The Spa, Scarborough 23 November 2013
ASP, BAZ, Mark Beasley, Shane Bradford, Mathieu Beausejour, David Blandy and Larry Achiampong, Billy Childish and Harry Adams, Ami Clarke, Leigh Clarke, Common Culture, Leslie Deere, Arnaud Desjardin, Dominic from Luton, Doyle and Mallinson, Benedict Drew, Patricia Ellis, Anna Frances, Simon Fujiwara, Andrew Gilbert, Oona Grimes, Emma Hart, Emma Holmes, Lucy Harrison, Stuart Home, Kevin Hunt, kennardphillips, Dean Kenning, Peter Lamb, Abigail Lane, Cedar Lewisohn, Colin Lowe, Sarah Lucas, Natalia Mali, Alexis Milne and Tex Royale, Jenny Moore, Harriet Murray,Laura Oldfield Ford, Richard Paul, Mark Pearson, Plastique Fantastique, Clunie Reid, Tanja Ritterbex, Pat Rock, Katie Schwab, Melanie Stidolph, Alice Walton, Frank Wasser, Jessica Voorsanger.
Live performance by Alexis Milne and Tex Royale and Jenny Moore
So what is/are PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS? Lets start at the beginning, Pigdog was originally conceived as a Doyle and Mallinson solo project, a body of work that looked at the manifesto as a literal as opposed to literary work of art, an attempt to liberate the words from the stricture of the page. Inspired by Picabia’s Nature Morte; Portrait of…, (1920) we set about constructing a series of large relief’s based upon on our own pseudo manifestos. For one reason or another the concept stalled, the impasse only broken when we had a sudden epiphany. Why the dearth of manifestos in contemporary art? Why not ask our friends to help?
Were we not looking hard enough? Did the lack of avant-garde, coherent, semi-coherent or even incoherent movements play a part, were artists working to a personal secret ten point plan, maybe the works themselves declared the aims of the artist without the need for the bombastic rhetoric of a manifesto?
Alex Danchev claims in his introduction to 100 Artists Manifestos (Penguin Classics 2011) that Marinetti’s The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism (1909) “not only announced a new movement but effectively started a new trend, a new genre, an adventure in artistic expression.”
The idea of the art manifesto as a genre in its own right is immediately appealing, maybe the militaristic leanings of the Futurists are hard to swallow, but their general avant –gardism and desire to shock was an important influence on Dada, the anti art movement so beloved of budding adolescent artists …In fact most manifestos are derivative of preceding manifestos even when defining themselves against their predecessors.
Seemingly contradictory messages are abundant in the manifesto format, coupled with typographical playfulness as exemplified by Futurism, Dada and Fluxus, all seem to point to an element of absurdism or buffoonery within the genre (if that’s what it is?) but as Danchev points out despite the clowning, much manifestoing is fiercely engaged.
Having decided that the best way forward was to resort to the traditional format of the manifesto – the newspaper, we sat back and awaited the contributions from the invited artists. What was surprising was the sheer eclecticism of the material we received, some artists clearly believed in ‘the image says all’, there were typographical parodies, shopping lists, personal vendettas, single sentence text pieces, collages, political propaganda, instructions, and even some that looked and felt like ‘real’ manifestos and of course elements of the obligatory absurdism and tomfoolery.
What was apparent, was that over two issues we had amassed a collection of interesting material that was extremely engaging. Perhaps not reinforcing the idea of the manifesto as genre. “Genres are dead, long live the genre!” but maybe going some way towards answering our original question, “why the apparent dearth of manifestos in contemporary art?”
Maybe we don’t live in a time of great political and cultural upheaval that would elicit the kind of response from Marinetti, Dada and co. Maybe the manifesto exists in a different guise ,one that is not readily recognisable, maybe the traditional art manifesto as a form of artistic expression is intrinsically bound to the 20th century. Maybe the manifesto is dead! Long live…
The exhibition includes all the artists featured in the two issues of Pigdog the paper, plus invited artists that we consider make work that would sit well within the concept of the show. Pigdog and Monkeyfestos isn’t an attempt at genre defining, a historical survey or the launch of a new movement and as with the paper the show is defined by the artists interpretation of what a manifesto is, should or could be.
So what is Pigdog and Monkeyfestos? A boys own story of imaginary combat against the cultural forces of oppression?
A dodgy cabaret act from the last century or the hamfisted result of the infinite monkey theorem? Probably none of them and all of them.
PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS began life as a Doyle and Mallinson solo project but for one reason or another it stalled. Making a series of works, all manifestos, turned out to be impossible. Perhaps it’s because any one artist can only deliver one statement about what they do with any conviction and that trying to conceive of six or seven versions just leads to one convincing work and five or six parodies. Whatever the reason was, we stopped making the work and picked up new projects but at this time began talking to friends about their relationships to art manifestos. It seemed that almost everyone had at some point – usually very early on in their development – come into contact with historic art manifestos and been motivated by them. Despite the idealism, the naïvity or the plain stupidity of the content, the sheer energy of many of them and the expressions of anger and frustration were enough to make them fantastic artworks in their own right. Of course, no-one in their right mind would want to try to write their own. All that founding a new art movement was long dead. The only option left open seemed to be a very personal statement, and wouldn’t even that be tempered by the fact that we’re not living in a state of violent social or cultural upheaval?
Without knowing what to expect, we invited twenty or so friends to contribute to a newspaper. We asked them to make an artwork in the form of a manifesto and left it at that, no further instructions or brief. From that point on, PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS became a collective effort and what surprised us was the diversity of forms and content that artists understood as ‘manifesto’. The very personal, sincere statement was there but also the ‘to do’ list, the political rant and the parody, collectively throwing their weight around like a WWF wrestling bout – pantomime and showmanship but with real muscle.
The resulting exhibition PIGDOGANDMONKEYFESTOS is the combination of artists who contributed to issues one and two of the newspaper and a new group Invited specifically for the show. With fifty two artists involved, many showing multiple works, the show is full and that too is very important to us. No selection process took place and everything was accepted because more is most definitely MORE. What the visitor will see is a celebration of argument, difference and discordancy, a sign of creative health and vitality and real democracy at work.
Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Aid and abet, ASP, BAZ Mark Beasley, Mathieu Beausejour, Shane Bradford, Kerry Campbell, Billy Childish and Harry Adams, Ami Clarke, Leigh Clarke, Common Culture, Leslie Deere, Arnaud Desjardin, Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson, Benedict Drew, Patti Ellis, Plastique Fantastique, Laura Oldfield Ford, Anna Francis, Simon Fujiwara, Andrew Gilbert, Kenneth Graham, Oona Grimes, S Mark Gubb, Lucy Harrison, Emma Hart, Emma Holmes, Stuart Hom, Kevin Hunt, kennardphillips, Dean Kenning, Peter Lamb, Abigail Lane, Cedar Lewisohn, Sarah Lucas, Dominic from Luton, Jenny Moore, Harriet Murray, Richard Paul, Mark Pearson, Cult of Rammellzee, Clunie Reid, Tanja Ritterbex, Pat Rock, Katie Schwab, Anna Crystal Stephens, Melanie Stidolph, Neil Taylor, Jennet Thomas, Sarah Thorley, Jessica Voorsanger, Vulpes Vulpes, Alice Walton, Frank Wasser
Live performances by David Blandy and Larry Achiampong, ‘Biters’
And Frank Wasser ‘untitled’