Alexander Brener & Barbara Schurz - a disposable piece of anti-literature which combines wild flights of fantasy, Bataillean erotic excess, half-baked poetry and ‘primitive’ illustrations with sober theories of cultural and social revolution
Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz, Bukaka Spat Here, Vargas Organisation, 2002.
A: Bukaka is a relentless, tasteless, walking revolution, she spits and swallows, is weak and indestructible. Her philosophy does not quote Foucault and other dead white male jerks: it is barboodas, klikusha, pfush. She has no footnotes. Blood, spit and cum boil where she walks. Would make an excellent weekly comic. I know you are not Raymond Pettibon: he never did anything that exciting.
A&B: No, Bukaka is not really a comic book with a savage and sexy heroine but rather the story of a mad and oppressed migrant who tries to find radical political methodologies and ways of living. It is more a metaphoric portrait of a current left activist than a spitting machine. It is a story of personal and ideological disasters, a story of a naïve but brave soul who can’t obey to a world of masters and slaves. As well it is a metaphor for the danger of discourses and how these discourses exist in bodies. Besides, this book is about the impossibility of any ‘literature’, any aesthetics now.
‘Don’t read it! Fuck it! Smash it! FORGET IT! DEMOLISH IT! PISS ON IT!’ Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz advise the reader of their scatological, scatter-fire manifesto Bukaka Spat Here. This slim volume is a disposable piece of anti-literature which combines wild flights of fantasy, Bataillean erotic excess, half-baked poetry and ‘primitive’ illustrations with sober theories of cultural and social revolution. It’s accomplishment is to create a book which is non-serious and unimpressive in its style, yet imaginative, entertaining and inspiring in its political passion.
Bukaka tells the tale of a colossal, indestructible, heroic black female with an insatiable appetite for cross-species sex and revolutionary escapades. True to superhero form she is endowed with a special power – her venomous, viscous, acidic and sometimes deadly spit. She is also able to transmogrify into a fly and, despite being torn limb from limb by a nail bomb, survives in the form of an enormous deadly tooth. In their quest to discover ‘anti-technologies of RESISTANCE’, Brener and Schurz transform the body’s incoherent excreta and libidinous drives into the inassimilable weapons of revolt. Rejecting terrorist violence (the sign of the left’s demise), critical art (the fuel of the capitalist art market) and the opportunist reformism of anti-capitalist groups like Globalise Resistance, these notorious iconoclasts offer us the politics of direct democracy fused with an insurgency of the body.
In keeping with Negri and Hardt’s theory of constituent power, (and despite their condemnation of ‘fucking Michael Hardt!’), they promulgate the language-defying sea of singularities which comprise the multitude as against its vicarious and oppressive representation from above. But where Negri and Hardt focus on the insurrectionary potential of the internet, Brener and Schurz focus on the unanswerable effrontery of saliva, shit, sex and farts. ‘Anti-technologies of RESISTANCE are like a fart at a cocktail party with guests dressed in evening attire.’ But no matter how refreshing this departure from the technophilia of so many adherents of the postmodern politics of the multitude, their technophobia and condemnation of industrial production per se could augur a worrying return to the swamp of primitivism. - Josephine Berry
What is this? Is it a novel? Is it an anti-novel? Is it an anti-anti-novel? Is it a comic book about the exploits of an outrageous superhero – Bukaka? Is it a joke? It is perhaps all of these things and none. The core idea behind this book may be Alfred Jarry’s assertion that, “We shall not have succeeded in demolishing everything unless we demolish the ruins as well. But the only way I can see of doing that is to use them to put up a lot of fine, well-designed buildings.” Brener/Schurz use the rubble of literature to further destroy capitalist power structures:
Basically we have to fight on three linked fronts: on a political, economic and cultural one! On political front we have to storm and abolish all centres of power: parliaments, ‘White Houses’, ‘Kremlins’, secret services, ministries and so on. We must ruin it literally! On the economic front we have to get rid of monetarist relations and establish a non-hierarchical order from which all policemen must be shocked. Immediately! And on the cultural front we have to spit on elitist and populist aesthetic representations and build non-discriminative radical-democratic forms of creativity. Or anti-creativity!
Iconoclastic to the last, Brener/Schurz even spit on their father/precursor, “Don’t read it! Fuck it! Smash it! Don’t eat it! All literature texts are a crematorium full of ashes! When I was a teenager a (sic) read too much Lautreamount (sic) and Jarry! I read too much Dumas! That’s the origin of all this equatorial carousels and other rhetoric garbage! FORGET IT! DEMOLISH IT! PISS ON IT!”
Adorning… no, adorning is not quite the word – let’s go for defiling. Defiling the white walls of The Function Room in Somers Town, London, are 17 illustrations from the book. The one above portrays Bukaka’s magical and ruinous spittle. It is the spit of art punks, the venom of cultural cobras; it dissolves and destroys Bukaka’s enemies. It is more scatological than Boris Vian, more vitriolic than Johnny Rotten. It is the superpower Bukaka – the muscular black woman with a huge white dildo between her legs – unleashes upon the forces of repression and oppression.
Sitting downstairs in the pub – The Cock Tavern – before and after visiting the exhibition, I was reading the short stories of Heinrich von Kleist and, surprisingly, the German Romantic writer shares with Brenner/Schurz the paradox and contradictions of a melancholic vitality and a schizophrenic rationality. The subversion of narrative expectations and the use of the body/sexuality as sites of resistance are forms of textual and political transgression, “DEAR READER! Now I want to make one more hole in this narrative and declare that everything said above is incredible bullshit.”
Bukaka is a black female Burundian Don Quixote; her Sancho Panzas are Blondie the white panther, the rat, Candy Darling and a succession of lovers, including Muammar Gaddafi and Karl M. Her lance is her trusty dildo and the giants she tilts at are, among others, Michael Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Noam Chomsky. She is internationalist, she transmogrifies, she becomes a fly, a zeppelin, she survives a suicide bomber and transforms into a single magic tooth of destruction, extermination and retaliation.
I’m a tooth, tooth, tooth,
In my youth, youth, youth!
Derrida my muse,
My surface is smooth!
Bukaka’s attacks on Western hegemony are mirrored in the text’s inclusion of ‘borrowed’ passages, uncorrected spellings and rethinks, narrative leaps and elisions. The book’s physical violence and intrinsic intertextual plagiarism are direct attacks on Western politics, art and literature – “CONSUMERISM, CONFORMISM AND TOURISM ARE TODAY’S CUBISM, FUTURISM AND DADAISM.” Bukaka also rejects other forms of revolt, claiming, “so-called legal forms of RESISTANCE maintain and reproduce the shitty status quo”. In her strident call for pure revolution and freedom, Bukaka even goes so far as to prefigure object-oriented ontology: “SO REVOLUTION MEANS EQUALITY FOR GARLIC, STARS AND HUMAN BEINGS.”
The book is bespattered with spittle and laughter; black comedy and a surprising ennui amalgamate into melancholy (black bile). The targets of Bukaka’s caustic emissions include Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Haim Steinbach, Cindy Sherman, Louis Bourgeois, Chris Ofili and Thomas Hirschhorn. These artists have their alter egos in politicians such as Mr Truman, Mr Eisenhower, Mr Kennedy, Mr Johnson, Mr Nixon, Mr Ford, Mr Carter, Mr Bush senior and Mr Clinton. In fact, like Bukaka herself, her spittle and her vituperative comedy is global: “Fuck you, vampire country United States of America!!! And fuck you, United Kingdom!!! And fuck you, European Union!!! And fuck you, Russia!!! And fuck you, all satellites!!!” Her aesthetic and political interests are more aligned to outsiders such as Jean Genet, Nedd Ludd, Velimir Chlebnikov and the Unabomber.
But this is not throwaway nihilism or disposable postmodernism; the exhibition’s black and white drawings are colourful in their subject matter and humorous in execution, mixing together a blaxploitation-science-fiction-situationist vibe portraying Bukaka, her sidekicks and her weapons in all their monochromatic glory. The book’s aesthetics (or anti-aesthetics, or anti-anti-aesthetics) materially mirror the do-it-yourself nature of the prose. On the back cover are invented blurbs from Noam Chomsky, Stewart Home, Donna J Haraway and a number of newspapers. The multicoloured pages are of differing grades and stapled together, giving the publication a somewhat samizdat feel.
Vargas Organisation, the press behind Bukaka Spat Here, publishes and distributes editions of artists’ works, chapbooks, catalogues, plus documents from the International Necronautical Society. Other Vargas Brener and Schurz publications include Demolish Serious Culture!!! (2000), which, illustrated and in German and Russian prose and verse, attempts to do just that; The Art of Destruction (2004), a collection of stories, essays, verse and drawings on anti-art, anti-philosophy and politics; Fuck Off and Die Alone (2013), a ‘found’ volume of drawings and texts; Claim Against Fame (2012) a book of illustrated epigrams and urban legends that ‘tells you the things you want to know about fame and notoriety, obscurity and hiddenness, and also what to eat, what to wear, how to fuck and how to fight all apparatuses of power and authority’; and The Exploits and Opinions of Mafalda, The Girl (2014), which I would describe as a very, very graphic novel. Vargas Organisation also publishes works on or by William Burroughs, Anča Daučíková, Marlene Haring, Stewart Home, Tom McCarthy, Katrin Plavčak and Ian Whittlesea. Bukaka Spat Here and its attendant exhibition showcase the admixture of art and text, of art and politics, of art and philosophy and of art and humour (however black) that are the essential components of work exhibited at The Function Room. - Steve Finbow
Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz, The Art of Destruction, Blossom vs. Fruit SAMIZDAT, 2004.
Our method will be very simple. We will tell of what we love; and in this light, everything else will become evident.
There is just one art: the art of destruction
There is just one art history: the history of war against authority.
There is just one aesthetic: one art idea, one art meaning, one principle, one force: to be intolerant towards any authority, any oppression, any injustice, any chains.
Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz, Fuck Off and Die Alone, Lubok Bobok Samizdat, 2013.
On a windy winter day in January 2013 Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz went for a walk in Marechal Carmona Park in Cascais, Portugal. There, on a bench, they found a used paperbag containing the drawings and texts that are published in this book.
They started to look at the images with excitement but then it began to rain heavily. They looked around them: the park was totally empty. They took the paperbag and ran for shelter.
Brener and Schurz don't know anything about the author of these pictures or the circumstances in which she or he left them in the park. There was no name or contact on these papers, not even a signature. They decided to publish everything exactly as it was in the paperbag.