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#14: Self-Education

CAT Group /// Manifesto of the School for Timely Art*

Schools always teach us to obey our teachers. All schools, colleges, academies, institutes, and universities that teach us to march and walk straight ahead have long since forgotten themselves; they have forgotten where knowledge is to be found. Now, they give us lessons on how to survive contemporaneity, how to outlive the end of history, how to cope with the logic of capital. At school, people learn to make money and how to satisfy their needs.

Schools always teach us to obey our teachers. All schools, colleges, academies, institutes, and universities that teach us to march and walk straight ahead have long since forgotten themselves; they have forgotten where knowledge is to be found. Now, they give us lessons on how to survive contemporaneity, how to outlive the end of history, how to cope with the logic of capital. At school, people learn to make money and how to satisfy their needs.

HISTORY teaches us that it is not we who make it, but YUKOS and Tampax.
GEOGRAPHY teaches us that nature consists of resources and fossil fuels.
BIOLOGY teaches us that life is nothing but a form of existence for protein chains.
PHILOSOPHY teaches us to hate thinking.
CHEMISTRY teaches us the formula of alcohol.
PHYSICS teaches us to calculate the trajectory of an artillery shell.
DRAWING teaches us that we are unable to draw.

Exhibitions are made with money, so that money is all that exhibitions show. Schools teach us to count our net profits, how to write proposals. Society talks to us through a one-way dialogue in the language of money. Schools teach us that we have no language of our own, that our language is the language of Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Mayakovsky. Pushin, Tolstoy, and Mayakovsky have long since been selling Chinese T-shirts on the fleamarket; they now teach the language of trade.
We categorically reject this kind of “dialogue.” We are opening our school for timely art to learn how to speak and to teach others how to speak. Money builds palaces of cultural and castles of content in which the human being plays a secondary role, little more than a precondition for their existence. Humanity has been acquired as money’s second nature. Culture demonstrates the damage the world of commodities has done to humanity, a loss for which there is no recompense. Culture has lost the right to produce truth and beauty. Truth is produced by television and the media; advertising is responsible for beauty. Culture leaves art in the basement.
Our school proclaims that it is time to leave the basement. The School for Timely Art claims the right to produce the truth. Our school manifests timely art that is against the culture of commodities and money. Our school is not a protest; we are not demanding anything; we are opening a new epoch of two-way dialogue. We are the forgotten in this war of coals and mandarins; we are the primordial soup in which a civilized market should develop; we, deserters from the army of culture, proclaim that we have the right to speak. When they tell us that the country needs a strong army instead of creative education, we can only answer by laughing. We won’t only laugh once. We are going to be laughing for a very long time.
The future belongs to our laughter!
We will not learn your culture, the CULTURE of making war with peaceful goals, the CULTURE of making weapons of mass destruction, the CULTURE that transmits the truth live on primetime without any right to dissent.
“So what can you offer instead,” says the bureaucrat once again, bloated  with cultural consumption, a volume of Pushkin in his pocket.
“Û-û-û-û-û-òü!”** will be the only answer. Pushkin is confined to the prisonhouse of his books, and if he were free, he would scream “Û-û-û-û-û-òü” louder than anyone else.

Decree on Timely Art

Timely art is the art of communities that have not been accounted for, the art of groups that have no language to express the loss that existing culture has done to them.
Timely art is both the acquisition of a language and its transformation. Unrecorded, neglected group do not acquire their language to complain about their loss or to protest. The self-organized, self-constituting language of unrecorded groups is the claim of a neglected discourse for participation in history and the production of the truth.
Timely art has no author; its body is the communication of its participants within the group; its artwork is the result of exteriorized communication.
Works of timely art have no material value; instead, it notifies the spectators of the existence of new principles for the functioning of society, which have come to consciousness through the group. Visiting an exhibition or an action, the spectator inevitably becomes a participant, since authorship spreads to everyone who has accepted its new principle.
Timely art is political art. Timely art claims the right to define truth; as art, it also negates truth as a passive, exoteric circumstance. Timely art claims the right to its global presence in life, and the right to define that life. Timely art’s political demand: “Û-û-û-û-û-òü”!
Timely art is radical art. Culture offers (or fails to offer) us sublime and abstract ideals, but whenever responsible decisions need to be made, culture speaks the language of money. Timely art radically keeps to its own language, which is the objectified movement of subcultures to the formulation of truth.
Timely art expresses the values and interest of intellectual workers. Workers who do not only sell their time, but their thoughts. In the past, the worker sold his labor power, alienating from his labor’s results. Today, the worker sells his ability to think and learns, thus alienating himself from his creativity.
The existence of timely art embodies creative, non-professional self-education, whose goal is not to gain professional skills, and the resulting ability to sell one’s knowledge, but the ability to gain knowledge and to pass it on to others.

Translator’s notes:
*This use of timely is a Russian pun on the proximity of the words sovremenoe (=contemporary) and svoevremenoe (=timely, on-time).

** The neologism Û-û-û-û-û-òü (Y-y-y-y-y-t’, with a soft t like in Chto delat’) is a verb that seems to mime great effort, but also sounds a little like children’s language. It rhymes with vyt'( = to howl),” and byt’ (=to be). There is no good way to translate it, unfortunately.


The CAT group was founded in Novosibirsk in 2003 by the sociologist Ekaterina Drobysheva, the artist Maxim Neroda, and the political activist Artem Loskutov.
The group became known through the organization of an entire series of actions in urban space.

These include “Monstration” (2004-2005), an intervention in a Mayday demonstration with absurdist slogans and posters, “Study, Study, and Study Again” (2004), a street-party in defense of free education, which took around a monument to Lenin, or “Freedom, Equality, Piracy” (2004), the blocking of advertising campaigns by circulating and destroying pirate productions. For more information, see www.monstration.narod.ru

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