The international anti-censorship art collective, Beuyscouts of Amerika (“Be prepared—fight censorship!”), was founded in the summer of 1989 by artist Norman Conquest. It was, in part, a response to the Republican attack on the National Endowment for the Arts—spearheaded by the late right-wing Senator (and reprobate) from North Carolina, Jesse Helms.
“…The most recent round of the national debate over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) ended one year later, on July 21, 1998. On that day the House of Representatives approved $98 million for the NEA for fiscal 1999 and rejected the conservative Republican position that tax dollars should not be used to support the arts. This is the latest chapter in a concerted assault on the arts — and eventually humanities — that has been raging with more or less ferocity since May 1989 when Sen. Jesse Helms, on information supplied by the conservative Christian American Family Association, condemned Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” in an NEA-funded exhibition at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”
GO TO HELMS!
The first “scout work” appeared in New York City’s SoHo district—a series of ant-censorship decals plastered on phone booths, mailboxes, and gallery windows. The decals were reproduced in various publications like the Village Voice and Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine which put the mischievous organization on the map.
Private collection: Darlene Altschul
In 1992, Conquest created “Piss Bush,” a Beuyscout multiple (edition of 100) consisting of a transparency of George H. W. Bush submerged in a urine-filled bottle housed in a plastic case.
[Special Collections at the John M. Flaxman Library, Art Institute of Chicago]
Many other talented artists produced work for the scouts, including Gerard Barbot, Marcello Diotallevi, Tarzana Savannah, Stefan Szczelkun, Farewell Debut, Klaus Groh, General Idea, Art FBI, and the Guerrilla Girls, among others.
Coming out post card by Farewell Debut (New York, 1990). [Private collection: Darlene Altschul]
GIRLS ARE BEUYSCOUTS,
OFF TO THE CULTURE
Post card by Stefan Szczelkun (London, 1991) [Private collection, Darlene Altschul]
With the reemergence of the Republican culture wars and recent GOP assault on women, the Beuyscouts of Amerika are on the march again. All artists interested in participating are invited to contact Norman Conquest via this email LINK.
Yes, Newt Gingrich is back and just to prove that history repeats itself, here’s an excerpt from the book Extremely Weird Republicans (1995) by Norman Conquest.
For more, visit Letter Bomb: The Official Organ of Beuyscouts of Amerika at www.beuyscouts.com