Open Call Plexus International Art Slavery Manifesto Group Shot, New York, Rome, Carloforte, Goree-Dakar

In early May of 1988, in East 6th Street, in the Lower East Side, in front the burned building of The Shuttle, as a call for a community action for the freedom of art, it was launched The Plexus International Art Slavery Photo Shot Manifesto. The Art Slavery Manifesto was conceptualized as a multi-fractal 900 artists faces photo to be collected in New York, Rome, Sardinia and Dakar, and then to be sold through a public art auction to be held at the Pan African Festival of Arts and Cultures in December, in Dakar. The first photo shot was made on May 21 of 1988, at the Rivington School’s sculptured garden, participants from the 1986 Plexus art slaves ship gathered together with other artists for the first group shot of the Plexus Art Slavery Manifesto. The historical photo was taken  by Ivan Dalla Tana. The Rivington School, a radical art urban project, summed up as Dada meets Country-Western was conceived few years before by Ray Kelly, the captain of the Plexus art slaves ship, inspired from the Bucky Fuller’s work on synergetics.  He started the Rinvington Shool as a workshop of metal sculptors in a small shop at 172 Forsythe Street and expanded into an adjacent vacant ruined city-owned lot, that was transformed into a monumental sculptured garden, with a forge at the centre.  Many artists, Fred Bertucci, Toyo Tsuchiya, Tovey Halleck, E.F.Higgins III, Robert Parker, Linus Coraggio, Ken Hirasutka, Jeff Perren, Ed Herman, Kevin Wendall, R.L. Seltman, and others, moved there with Ray Kelly when his No Se No, a nearby alternative artists social club in Rivington Street, was closed. The Rivington School became an open free space for performances, concerts, installations and exhibitions in alternative to the new fancy glamour galleries of the East Village. It was more related to a way to live artistically, “Anyone can be an artist”  was its statement.  No discrimination was made in the school against any participation, where blacksmithing and welding were taught to new members as well as to community people. In Rome, at the Metateatro, on June 15 of 1988, the second group shot  was taken by Adriano Mordenti, at the centre of the stage, framed with boxing ring posters of the last Cassius Clay’s world match. Participants from the 1987 Serpent event and from the 1979 L.I.A.C.A. cultural slaves market show gathered together in front to an enlarged copy of the NYC group shot with other artists from the Roman avant-garde of the 70’s. The ritual photo was opened by Paolo Buggiani performing with his Minotaur in fire the arrival from New York of the Rivington School photo shot. Sandro Dernini performed the transformation of Italian tomato cans into Plexus cans. 10 liras coins were painted in white and glued on top. 23 historical players signed 23 Plexus cans as a limited edition labelled “Made in the 80’s for the 90’s”.Carlo Cusatelli distribuited Serpent yellow cards announcing the return from New York of Plexus art slaves boat. Fabrizio Bertuccioli presented Manifesto Chiamata Aperta di Plexus International per gli Schiavi dell’Arte (Manifesto Open Call of Plexus International for the Slaves of Art).



From Manifesto Chiamata Aperta di Plexus International per gli Schiavi dell’Arte by Fabrizio Bertuccioli:

Art as the realm of “gratuitous” is the invention of possibilities of free withdrawal and the production of acts, events, objects, etc.... through which an exchange is reinvented between unrelated and heterogeneous spheres, that of the useful and that of the useless (play). The reinvention of exchange between these spheres, the re-establishing of a relationship between homogeneous and heterogeneous, allows us to identify values which are necessary for the survival of any civilization. This is the work engaged in by artists as utopian producers of the “gratuitous,” a work for which too often they have to pay the price. To deny marginality as a chance for enriching the exchange between those heterogeneous who withdraw from the dominant homogeneous, to propose an attitude toward the programming and production of projects which actually amount to denying the chance itself, is a crime against freedom and against a freely composed world, before than a crime against creativity and art. Reinventing the locations of art is an operative element in this marginality. When one sees a piece of art in a place that is already “valorized,” in a place already assigned to art, everything one sees acquires “authority,” becomes important, and exchange becomes impossible. When, instead, one sees it simply just like that, in an ordinary place, without the prop of the ‘appropriate’ place and surroundings, one finds it easier to criticize, one is forced into a relationship with it.  It is the capacity to perceive normality as opposed to the expectation of an extraordinary event, which, in most the cases, is just a prefabricated display. The production of use value consists in the attribution of sense to the world of signs and objects which man produces for man (play).Art is where it is, not what it is... The live TV news becomes the only acknowledged reality in the world…

The third historical Plexus group photo was taken, three days after, on June 18, in the harbor of Carloforte, in Sardinia, on board the Elisabeth boat. Its purpose was to promote a real travel of the Elisabeth boat to the Island of Goree, crossing the Mediterranean Sea and navigating near the Northern Western African coasts of the Ocean Pacific. Anna Saba, Randi Hansen, Luigi Mazzarelli, Annamaria Caracciolo, Giovanna Caltagirone, Antonello Dessi, Andrea Portas,  Stefano Grassi,  Maria Grazia Medda, Loredana Melis, Pierluigi di Todaro, Tiziana De Giorgi, Zi of the Barone Rosso, Sandro Dernini, Fabrizio Bertuccioli staged their artworks on board the Elisabeth boat, transformed into a symbolic art slaves ship, ready to leave for Dakar. An other photo group shot was held at the cinema Mutua. Antonio Caboni ended the action with a fire performance on board the Elisabeth.

Then, in Rome, on June 25, inside the Coloseum,  a photo shot was taken with Micaela Serino, Silvia Pellegrini, Carlo Cusatelli, Loreto Pappadia, Antonio Caboni, Sandro Dernini, Andreina Abbondanza, Vittorio Terracina, Fabrizio Bertuccioli.  In August of 1988, Sandro Dernini arrived in the Medina of Dakar, guest of Assane MBaye, in rue 17 angle 8. There he performed  the re-materialisation landing from Sardinia of the Plexus toy boat with on board the Don Cherry’s Buddha statuette, the Nuraghic statuette and many other Plexus relics. In Dakar, the Pan African Festival FESPAC was cancelled as well as the invitation for Plexus International to come in Dakar in December. Anyway, without any supports, the Plexus art slaves voyage continued in direction to the House of the Slaves of Goree.  Assane MBaye brought Sandro with Langouste MBow to the mosque of  Touba, holy capital of the Mourides Islamic brotherhood, to meet the marabout Serin Karim M’Backe, to get his consensus to stage a theatrical art parade, from the Medina to Goree, performing the exile to Gabon of Cheick Ahmadou Bamba. He was the spiritual father and founder of the Mouridism Islamic religion, who was exiled by the French government during its colonialist domination in Western Africa. At Kre MBaye studio, prof. Okechukwu Odita, a Nigerian artist as well as art scholar from the Ohio State University, offered to produce a video documentation of the Plexus parade from the Median of Dakar  to the House of the Slaves in the Goree island.  At the Langouste MBow’s studio, located at the African Cultural Center Malick Sy, in avenue Blaise Diagne in the Medina, it was staged the video recording of the presentation of Plexus voyage to Goree made by Zulu MBaye, president of the national association of plastic artists of Senegal (A.N.A.P.S.) and by Youssouph Traorè, president of the Club Litteraire David Diop. There, around the person of the chief Pathè Diop, an art altar was made with Plexus relics and Langouste paintings, to perform the Plexus voyage towards the Kre MBaye’s studio. On August 26, from the studio of Kre MBaye, at rue 17 angle 8, in the Medina, a serpentine art procession parade of hundreds participants, carrying previous Art Slavery Manifesto group shots, performed ritually the historical exile to Gabon of Cheik Amoudou Bamba. The theatrical parade was directed by Omar Seck of the National Theatre Sorano. It  moved through the streets of the Medina to take the ferryboat for the island of Goree. The parade ended at the House of the Slaves in Goree. The Plexus Art Slavery Manifesto was presented to the Dakar Mayor’s representative, together with the Plexus proposal to open a World Art Bank in Goree, managed directly by the artists in the first person, outside the control of the artworld. Ritually, the Plexus Manifesto Art Slavery group shot ended the event.


Open Letter to All Artists of the World from the House of the Slaves

We are informing you of the arrival of “The Boat of the Slaves of Art,” waited in Dakar, capital of Senegal, from December 23, 1988 to January 3, 1989. 

After the first international meeting  of the “Slaves of Art” in Sardinia, Italy, held on July 4, 1987, with the participation of 160 artists from 23 nationalities and after the departure of the metaphoric trip in the history and mythology of “The Boat of the Slaves of Art,” from New York on February 1986, it will be a second international meeting  for the artists as independent producers to debate on the redefinition of art and to research a new type of art contract, to defend the rights of the artists. All artists are invited to participate, within the scope of this international event, to realize the Plexus Art Co-Opera N°5, “The Serpent,” a simultaneous and synchronized presentation of art and science, which will be presented as a parade-show on January 1, 1989, in the island of Gorée, Dakar, on the occasion of the 2° Plexus International meeting. In the island of Gorée, in the House of the Slaves, the final act will be performed as homage to the freedom of the Human Being and the outcomes of this event will be reported to the world.  Therefore, Plexus International launches a call for all artists of the world to come to Dakar, from December 23, 1988, to January 3, 1989, to contribute to the opening of a credit line in favor of the International Artists Community through the creation of an Art World Bank.