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Organize! What the Artists’ Union of the 1930s Can Teach Us Today

The 1930s was a time of massive organizing, strikes, union activity, and dissent that forced FDR and the New Deal to the left. 2009 does not provide us with such inspiring levels of resistance.

If the 1930s can teach us one key lesson, it is the need to organize. Nothing changes when people do not engage in the long and difficult work of building a diverse, multi-cultural, working class movement from the ground up. This includes artists.

Send Me Your Money

Hi. My name is Chris Burden. My address is 823 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, California, 90291. I can’t legally do this but let’s imagine that I asked everybody who’s listening tonight to send me money. Just, to send it directly to me. It would be such a small sacrifice for all of you and it could really do something for me. If you could just send money directly to me: Chris Burden, 823 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, California, 90291. Over the years I’ve done a number of things for you people out there in the public.

License Action (Jan. 17 – 18, 1981), By Guerilla Art Action Group

In 1981, Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG) made 10 license cards, like the one pictured above. The cards came in a small manila envelope with a red stamp on the front. Each card comments on a different person or government agency that in some way limits or controls peoples’ freedoms through abuses of their power.

The cards are both humorous and very serious. They take aim at individuals like (deceased Senator) “Strom Thurmond’s National Security And Terrorism Committee