Just before the release of CEAC’s magazine Strike No. 2, the printer provided advance copies to The Toronto Sun who on May 5, 1978 published an article called “Our taxes aid blood thirsty radical paper,” accusing CEAC of supporting the Italian revolutionary group The Red Brigades, and their recent kidnapping and assassination of Italian premier Aldo Moro. Here are a pair of texts by performance artist/writer Ron Giii (then known as Ron Gillespie), a quintessential CEAC insider, written shortly after the calamity of accusation, that outlines his own shifting responses.
Red Brigade (June 1978)
As a restraint focus on glass and recite the words: I am a member of the Red Brigade. As political refugees we must oppose the Canadian reaction and decline to take any interest in the Canadian art context. As a human being we must support the killing of Moro as 1. A first step along the long road to revolution. 2. A first step in the example of who was an archetype of mass alienation. 3. A man who lived in and amongst the contradictions of the North and South of Europe. 4. A man who for 30 years lived in that state and now has become an archetype for other traitors to humanity.
As a human being we should also not condone the suffering of millions of humans who will not live past the age of 35 and base our own reactions on the killing of one man who saw fit to align himself with the fat heads of European democratic institutions. As a human being we should not forget the millions who have died since 1939 and the endless suffering of those comrades in other nations who see death as a way of life.
As a human being we should not forget the brutal slaying of the Baader-Meinhof group who also wish to hit the targets of repression in Germany and elsewhere. As artists we should open our eyes to the political contexts and begin to realize in our work a closer allegiance to young political revolutionaries in other countries.
Finally it is appalling what has happened to CEAC and we should join in the fight against liberal reactionary groups in other countries. To be a member of the Moro Liberals is to deny the rights of other human beings who must suffer in prison the rest of their lives. To be quiet and tight lipped is to also ignore the problems of other humans and to be a worm-like configuration of pathetic proportions or a conservative. Take up the fight and support The Red Brigades in action or example, but do not sit and do nothing like the rest of the world as these young people are put in prison and mentally forced to go insane. Be brave and up front with your work and do not sit down when the heat is too much.
As students you are the last contemporary force who have not spoken up about the class struggle and you are falling behind the good example of CEAC. As students you are the last force to create change and yet you sit down as if it is too late when our motto is it is never too late. Be bold and aggressive and show your work everywhere and do not refuse to carry the struggle rather than be counted as a worker in the battle against class atrocity.
If you want to make posters against the class distinctions then make them felt so that they are clear and not abstracted from reality therefore having the courage to be counted as a young revolutionary. Whatever you make for the revolution make clear your intentions and above all do not be afraid of the conservatives who are asleep in their fat Mississauga houses. The writing of essays and intellectual orderings should be done with courage to make clear your intentions as well.
International Socialist Art (June 1978)
The CEAC has from the outset supported poor countries and young people from all over the world, no matter what political feeling they aspired to. We have tried to support this feeling amongst the young by helping to teach each other the ways to know, and how to see. We have openly shown films, video, books, research, performances, punk rock and created seminars, workshops, encounter groups, working projects for the communication of ideas, philosophy, beliefs. We have realized many points of view and learned from all actions. We have made future-oriented communication to all groups in the young world and now have to try to follow their goals no matter what we must have thought in the past.
Some artists who have supported our centre have been painters, sculptors, writers, art dealers, critics and people from all the possible choices. Many people have shown their support by simply coming to a performance or seminar and asking what we are doing and how they could understand more about young ideas. This support has been most encouraging and just the beginning of bringing out communication with these people.
The money needed for this communication is slow in coming from Government sources and even slower from individuals. However if the CEAC is to continue supporting young ideas and feelings it will need the help of all citizens to go on, without which the feeling we must adopt is that the care and concern is not there. The sources of concern for these young ideas have been largely brought about by the conditions of the international powers’ concern for themselves. Quite simply the powers that govern countries seem to be losing touch with the reality of young minds and are slowly disintegrating the hope and convictions of the young instead of talking with them as human beings. This gap, which is widening in anger and hatred of power, is pushing young people to resort to violence and force which will increase as the oppression intensifies. Eventually these young people will work against the power structures and spread the anger and frustration to others. This inevitable change will bring about the collapse and failure of power simply due to lack of communication.
The CEAC can only continue by having the support of all sectors of society that care for young ideas, we cannot go on without it, and therefore must close the centre due to lack of concern for others. This action would represent a society that totally thinks about their own ends and has no care for anyone but themselves. If this is how far removed the society is then what hope is there for anyone? Some of the artists listed below have contributed directly and indirectly to CEAC. We wish to thank them for their support and future criticism of CEAC.
Greg Curnoe, Jo-Anne Dankzer, Karl Beveridge, Carol Condé, Roald Nasgaard, Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Kathy McCabe, Barbara Astman, David Craven, Gary Dault, Carmen Lamanna, Av Isaacs, Victor Coleman, Tom Sherman, John Pope, Chantal Pontbriand, Clive Lewis, Alvin Balkind, Robin Collyer, General Idea, Joseph Kosuth, Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Robin Winters, Willoughby Sharp, Martha Wilson, Richard Kostelanetz, Michele Birman, George Manupelli, Wendy Knox-Leet, Vera Frenkel, Joyce Ziemans, Bruce Parsons, John Scott, Brian Kipping, Becky Singleton, Forest City Gallery, A Space, Arts Canada, Elizabeth Chitty, etc.
Information has a habit of being read differently according to the conditions of the person and may constitute a remarkable degree of transference in the process of receiving. For example I may say, “We have not taken the poison.” The different interpretations of this remark depends very much on the context of delivery. Some may think a murder has been committed and others may think a trap has been laid. In any case the contextual problem should be faced by everyone who has writings to publicize and made aware of the situation in as many aspects as possible to understand the motives of the particular people concerned. I suspect we have a vast undercovering that has slowly eroded the Canadian Artist into become closet cases simply because the Government has information that would prevent them from ever being public, as in all out in the open. If you know what I mean.
The conventional considerations of abstraction have a certain ring about them that I find very interesting to wiser persons with political expertise. Abstraction is similar to a codification which is difficult to decipher and can be acquired by virtually anyone who has an understanding of its informational accents. The mystic is another purveyor of a different sort of codification that represents another understanding that is perhaps the most difficult operation known and governments for centuries have been tackling this problem.
However with the end of abstract art and some mystics the government is now poised to learn real information set ups, art centres and government-sponsored organizations will put them in an ever-increasing position to know what’s going on in the minds of intellectuals and various groups they find difficult to understand. The institutes for information are now part of the government machinery and have a nice bank account for controlling individuals who naively go on trying to communicate to people. The trap has been well laid as the government’s crackdown on elitist organizations which mystify their real purpose makes clear. The new artist has realized this long ago, and in fact have been sending out information that the government wishes to keep secret, to keep the real information for when it counts. This perverse set up by governments is the result of long-range planning which has achieved the desired results to control the minds of human beings. However a few thinkers were well ahead of this process and have been seriously communicating in other ways that have no language and possess no mechanism for tracing. These are the future men and women who will have the beautiful job of undermining government institutions.
All human beings who look at information as true have fallen for the age-old problem of ignorance and unfamiliarity which breeds control over others. The information you select in an exhibition must be weighed in all its coverings and skins before being presented to a public. The reality you may face is the one directed from another source and may involve little on the surface but may be much deeper in the inner world of organized control. The paternalism some may feel in this blast is true inasmuch as you have been trained to think that way by institutions that set up the collapse of human rights from the day you are born.
My view is much stronger than this and I suspect some of you may realize that I have not been playing a pinball game but the very serious game of survival in its day-to-day exhaustion. If I have hit a few targets you may believe me when I say that wherever you point the finger you are attacking a structure for your benefit selected by others. The control we learn from societies is consuming in all areas of the planning of each operation and your concern for society might bring about a worsening of the already rotten predicaments that we find society encapsulated in.
Returning to the original evil of grantsmanship, I feel the continued dependency on its structures should be ceased as soon as possible to permit a lessening of the controls they exert on your actions. I feel the critical work you may think you are undertaking is constantly being eroded by this predicament and is one which can occur from the onset of your work, although we do not admit its pervasive influence. The crucial decision of this action for independence will probably receive immediate government disapproval when they realize you are privately involved with information. I feel at this moment my participation cannot go on as publicly as I naively hoped in the beginning and I have personal reasons for not doing public performances at your centre ,for the above reasons and others which I am not able to divulge. I do hope this rather abstract philosophy is of some use to your evaluation of information responsibility. Finally I urgently implore your direction for the future to consider the ramifications of this responsibility and realize the seriousness of your position to the acquiring of information on intellectuals and sensitive people who I know the government listens to much closer than the myth portrays.
R. Gillespie “Shitbandit” 1909.