Motor Arts was an organization promoting independent, noncommercial works of art.
Q: What is Motorik?
A: A nomadic gallery, Motorik Arts partners with other organizations to sponsor events and exhibitions at various locations throughout the Twin Cities.
Q: How many people are currently involved in Motorik Arts?
A: One, possibly thousands.
Q: When Motorik speaks, what does he say?
A: “I enjoy reading poetry almost as much as I enjoy watching modern dance.”
Q: What do you mean by “DIY Art”?
A: Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is a form of cultural output (and a political movement) that seeks to break down the barriers between producers and consumers, blurring the lines between leaders and followers, artists and non-artists, musicians and fans. It is an ideology of personal empowerment, born of out of necessity and simple practicality. DIY means making do with whatever resources you have at your disposal, regardless of “talent,” learning by doing (and frequently creating new forms of art). Zines are one example of this. Subway graffiti (or aerosol art) is another.
Q: But what is it?
A: It is a movement, with its own distinctive language, literature, and customs, yet no one knows what to call it. How do you put a label on a means of production?
Some of the people who are associated with this movement are publishers. Others are protesters or radical cheerleaders. Some of them are musicianhttp://web.archive.org/web/20131227154637/http://www.roctober.com/roctober/roc29.htmls. And some are painters or puppeteers.
Outside commentators sometimes refer to DIY as “activist culture” (though the political activists are a distinct minority). Others dismiss it as a “youth subculture,” an awkward term for a movement that spans four generations (some of these “youth” are now in their sixties).
While a handful of musicians who were once associated with the punk underground have gone on to achieve mainstream success, DIY is bigger than the confines of that particular music scene. The key players in DIY Culture weren’t necessarily musicians, and –with a few notable exceptions–they were never household names. But their influence on the wider culture has been lasting and profound.
Seize control over the means of production
Having witnessed the tremendous growth of “alterative culture” over the past 30 years, it is my belief that visual artists need to learn from experience of the independent music scene. Just as the DIY punk culture encouraged young people to form their own record labels; to publish their own magazines; and to book their own concerts; so, too, must visual artists begin to assert control over all aspects of the production and distribution of their work.
New technologies have rendered traditional business models obsolete. If they wish to survive, artists need to do end-run around the gatekeepers of the culture industry. It is time to cut out all of the middlemen.
“For a really long time, particularly in the early eighties, there had been a –I hate to say ‘work ethic’– but just such a strong independent ethic, where people who worked at really strong independent labels created almost an entirely separate economy…
“Not just a money economy, but an idea economy that was completely separate from whatever the overground was. It was really powerful. And it was huge.
“That whole [“alternative” music] thing that happened in the Nineties did a lot to disrupt its focus. I think that a lot of people who didn’t experience that [strong independent ethic] were much more willing to pass on having to participate, or put in that kind of effort. Because it seemed more ‘legitimate’ in some way to work in the traditional corporate mode.
“You just noticed how the conversations had changed. For a long time the conversations were about ideas, or the music itself, or about attitudes, or politics. And suddenly the conversations were all about contracts and careers.
“It kind of shrank everything a little bit. It disrupted a lot of the networks that had been set up for a long period of time. It scrambled stuff.”
– Guy Picciotto, Fugazi