Q. What is Culture? A. Shit [1968]

KING MOB. Q. What is Culture? A. Shit. London: King Mob, n.d. [October 1968]. 3 sheets; 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on white and pink stock

“This booklet was published to coincide with King Mob’s antagonistic participation in the occupation at the L.S.E. It reflect on art school occupations and demonstrations such as that at Hornsey College of Art. It prefigured King Mob’s publication of the magazine Letter on Student Power. Using language derived from the revolutionary groups the Situationists and the Enrages of Paris in May 1968, as well as the Paris surrealists of the early 1920s, this publication continues King Mob’s espousal of a transcendence of art into the poetry of life: ‘art schools are part of an empty, meaningless culture of death which must be subverted and destroyed on every level…THE NEW ARTIST DOES NOT WRITE OR PAINT BUT CREATES DIRECTLY – THE NEW ARTIST PROTESTS'” (Tate Modern)

See below for pictures from both my copy and the Tate’s exhibit.

We locate a copy at the Tate, part of the King Mob collection.

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King Mob 2 1/2: Reich, Geronimo, Dada…[1969]

KING MOB. King Mob 2 1/2. n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: King Mob, n.d. [ca. 1969]. 1 p.; ill.; 57 x 76 cm.; black and red ink on white stock

Perhaps the most famous of the King Mob posters. Text reads: “If You Don’t Believe In Lead You’re Already Dead” : Reich, Geronimo, Dada: American​ ​Revolutionaries With A ​Message for England. : Up Against The Wall Motherfucker. : “Your ​Civilization Represents Death. You Eat Dead Food. You Live Dead Lives. You Dig Dead Art. You Fuck Dead Women.” ; “We’re Looking For People Who Like To Draw.” ; King Mob No 2 1/2.”

We locate copies at Cornell and the New York Public Library, though the Tate also appears to own a copy (see here for the exhibition in which it was displayed, along with other posters from the Camden Poster Workshop)

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Maybe if someone told these students about Dada they’d forget daddy. What is Dada? Ask your tutor [1968 or 1969]

[KING MOB]. Maybe if someone told these students about Dada they’d forget daddy. What is Dada? Ask your tutor. n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: The Black Cat Rides again, n.d. [1968 or 1969]. 1 p. (two-sided); 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on yellow stock

Another King Mob leaflet criticizing students in the aftermath of the occupation / sit-in of the London School of Economics . “Ignorance is the main characteristic of the english student. He doesn’t even know he’s worse off than his comrades in Germany & France. Jesus who else would put up with such humiliation and bullshit” What follows is a “revised history of the L.S.E week. We do not claim these events, we claim to situate them. They have beenselected from the back pages of newspapers whose front pages were replete with the activities of responsible agitation”

As we do not locate other copies on OCLC, we would appreciate any further input on this document from our readers.

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Luddites: ’69 [1969]

KING MOB. Luddites:’69: our leaders tell us we must support them in their passive struggle against the bossesn.p. [London, United Kingdom]: King Mob, n.d. [1969]. Broadside; ill.; 77 x 51 cm (folded).; silk screened poster. Black and red ink on yellow stock

Printed at the Poster Workshop in London. “[King Mob] publications often took the form of détourné pop-cultural images, such as the poster Luddites 69, in which Andy Capp, the stereotypical northern working-class cartoon character, shoots policemen, below a text reproduced from a nineteenth-century Luddite broadside: ‘I ham going to informe you that theers six thousand me cuming to you sooon and then we will goe and blow up all about hus, labring peple cant stand it no longer…’ Elsewhere, The Beano’s Bash Street Kids rag their teacher, who asks: ‘What do you demand in pitting the power of everyday life against hierarchical power?’ ‘Simple,’ respond the kids, ‘we demand everything, teacher!’” (Tate Museum)

We located copies at the Tate Museum (King Mob collection) and at Yale’s Beinecke Library.

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[Cartoons] The Following are a Collection of the Cartoons…[1968]

KING MOB. [Cartoons]  The Following are a Collection of the Cartoons Which Were Rejected by the Committee of Public Safety……n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: King Mod / Black Hand Gang, n.d. [1968]. n.p. [8 stapled loose sheets]; ill.; 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on white stock

Posters produced by King Mob / Richard “Irish” Bell during the London School of Economics student occupation of 1968. However, “the cartoons were rejected by the Committee of Public Safety who patrolled the L.S.E. A stage managed repetition of the French ‘May’ posters – largely irrelevant to the English situation – were preferred…Posters were furtively taken down by the security guards – guards not only of a worthless property (the L.S.E. mausoleum) but a worthless morality too”. King Mob continues its critique of the L.S.E. occupation: “The L.S.E., like all other ‘English’ occupations so far, was a mere introjection of the bourgeois order. Who do we want: all the shit of the bourgeois society????? COMRADES, STOP BUGGERING ABOUT”

In presenting the posters in King Mob: A Critical Hidden History, David Wise writes: “There follows what was soon to be regarded as sexist and crude by the first wave of nice, refined feminists who alarmingly quickly dismissed King Mob in a simplistic way as male chauvinist. Had they never been in a public urinal (?) to find this is the type of stuff which goes down – often more in women’s toilets than men’s – though of most this now in our cleansed day and age is instantly wiped clean by hired firms of graffiti busters. These cartoons were of course a detournement of bog-wall style and deployed precisely for shock value in reaction to a fairly dire occupation at the London School of Economics, heavily manipulated by the paid-up intellectuals of the New Left Review … ” (p. 223)

We locate a copy at the Tate, part of the King Mob collection

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The Death of Art Spells the Murder of Artists. The Real Anti-Artists Appear [1968]

KING MOB. The Death of Art Spells the Murder of Artists. The Real Anti-Artists Appear. n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: King Mob / The Black Hand Gang, n.d. [1968]. 1 p.; ill.; 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on pink stock.

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Violent anti-art leaflet calling for the imitation of Valerie Solanas’ shooting of Andy Warhol, followed by a list of potential targets- Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Mike Kustow, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Mary Quant, Twiggy Shrimpton, Miles, Marianne Faithful. The names of Andy Warhol and Mario Amaya are crossed out, as both had both been shot by Solanas (Warhol was severely wounded in the attack)

“Gradually, the attack on art acquired a quasi-terrorist edge later highlighted in the leaflet celebrating Valerie Solanas’ attempted offing of Andy Warhol in New York. A leaflet was rapidly produced entitled, ‘The death of art spells the murder of artists. The real anti-artist appears.‘ which rounded off with a death list of mainly English artists playing on and detourning the Bob Dylan lyric; ‘so don’t think twice, it’s alright.’ Again, though our leaflet said little or nothing about this and despite having this leaflet to hand, an intervention was done without sufficient explanation, though for sure it helped promote our terrifying image but not much else. A band of King Mob adherents with masks covering their heads and faces burst into a meeting of students occupying Hornsey College of Art, in north London and showered the gathering with leaflets. Insults were traded, ‘fucking art students without an idea’ and inevitably the protagonists were thrown out. To be sure, the level of action and discussion among Hornsey students was fairly abysmal – even stupid – but perhaps there were better ways of getting something essential across rather than exclusively utilizing threatening images. Well, maybe because nonetheless a tiny minority of these art students did pick something up from the King Mob, Valerie Solanas leaflet even though we weren’t aware at the time. Our mock death threats had however been building up over the previous months…Finally it must be emphasised that these death threats were nothing more than aggressive image making tactics to purposefully inspire fear as none of us entertained the slightest intentions of offing artists; we merely wanted to encourage them on their way, pushing them towards the self-destruction of their own artistic roles” (David and Stuart Wise, King Mob: A Hidden Critical History, pp. 79-80)

We locate a copy at the Tate as part of the King Mob archive

Boredometer of the Rise and Fall of the New Proletarian Poverty, Figuring Lancaster Student Occupation [1970s]

[KING MOB / Ron Hunt?]. Boredometer of the Rise and Fall of the New Proletarian Poverty, Figuring Lancaster Student Occupation. n.p. [United Kingdom]: n.p., n.d. [1970s]. 1 p.; ill.; 42 x 59 cm.; black ink on white stock

Little is known about this spectacularly visual poster. It offer a critical commentary on the Lancaster Student Occupation, which allows us to date it back to the early 1970s. This situ-style detournement of “Bash Street” comics suggests it could have been produced by Ron Hunt or members of King Mob (the language is very similar to the Bash Street Kids to go the Sit-in leaflet, which we posted about early this week) but we are not altogether certain). Readers with more information should contact us

“The occupation was very feeble qualitatively. Imagination was at a low bar. ‘Politics’ was in charge. People sat on their arses listening to people talking (a la J.C.R or seminar group or lecture) rather than extending themselves as far as the creative social imagination could reach; thus a good opportunity for a collective celebration was lost due to basically sexual timidity and deferential respect for property and persons, two major blocks to the realisation of the human imagination in life”

We do no locate copies on OCLC or in the trade

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It Was Meant To Be Great But It’s Horrible” Confessions: S. Claus 1968 [1968]

[KING MOB]. It Was Meant To Be Great But It’s Horrible” Confessions: S. Claus 1968 . n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: n.p. [King Mob], n.d. [Dec. 1968]. 1 p. (two-sided); 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on white stock. 1 p.; ill.; 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on white stock

Description below courtesy of bookseller Andrew Sclanders at beatbooks. See here. I could not have written a better description of this item.

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“Written by Dave Wise and Ian and Diana Clegg, and distributed to shoppers in Oxford Street by King Mob during their anti-consumer intervention at Selfridges department store in December 1968. Text, with Christmas decorative illustrations designed by Dave Wise.

A King Mob contingent (including Fred Vermorel and Malcolm McLaren) visited Selfridges during Christmas 1968 and, with an amphetamine-fueled Ben Trueman dressed as Santa Claus, proceeded to give away free gifts to children. After the police were called, ‘Santa’ was arrested and the kids were made to give their presents back.

The texts reads [in part]: “It’s lights out on Oxford Street this year. No more midnight neon. No more conspicuous glitter for compulsive sightseers to gawp at the wonders of capitalism…You don’t deserve Christmas this year. You haven’t worked hard enough. You haven’t trotted fast enough through the in-put, out-put, clock-on, clock-off, the vicious circle of production and consumption. Save and spend, screw yourselves into the ground in preparation for the one time in the year when you’re allowed to let go, feast yourselves, overreach yourselves in a frenzied effort to enjoy – and spew it up afterwards”.

McLaren, who incorporated King Mob’s ideas into his promotion of the Sex Pistols (he based his ragged handwritten ‘Anarchy in the UK Christmas Day’ flyer for their Christmas 1977 concert in Huddersfield on this broadside), later mythologized the event in his 1991 film, ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ (Beatbooks)

See David Wise – King Mob: A critical Hidden History, p. 232

We locate a copy at the Tate (part of the King Mob collection) and another one at Yale.

The Bash Street Kids Go to the Sit-in [1969]

[KING MOB / Ron Hunt]. The Bash Street Kids Go to the Sit-in. n.p. [London, United Kingdom]: n.p., n.d. [ca. 1969]. 1 p. (two-sided); 21 x 34 cm.; black ink on white stock.

Leaflet passing a harsh judgment on student sit-ins in Cambridge and at the LSE: “And with this void at its heart the student participators in the sit-in could never achieve anything…How many lessons will the student need?? We shall be fortunate indeed if his puerile masochism cannot withstand the necrophilia that was the sit-in…”

Then, authors state the need for the revolution to be one of everyday life “Our theory is one of total liberation, our practice to bring this about as completely as possible at every level and every stage before the revolution. We therefore only come together in small groups, we groove together, make love together…We find affirmation in each other of our will to LIVE”.

The text ends with a call to action: “To despise the bourgeoisie means : EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED. Let nothing we hate, let no symbols of our alienation remain. We shall strike against our oppressors whenever and wherever we can. PAINTING WALLS, FLY POSTING, THEFT, SABOTAGE, ARSON. SHEER DELIGHT. TO LIVE MEANS TO ENJOY. ALL STUDENTS ARE POTENTIAL PROLETARIANS”

We locate copies at the Tate (part of the King Mob archive) and at the British Library. Not in David Wise’s King Mob – A Critical Hidden History.

Readers who have more context and information on this leaflet are encouraged to comment or contact me

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Contributi Che Servono a Rettificare l’Opinione del Publico Sulla Rivoluzione nei Paesi Sottosviluppati [1968]

KHAYATI, Mustapha. Contributi Che Servono a Rettificare l’Opinione del Publico Sulla Rivoluzione nei Paesi Sottosviluppati. Milan: Ed. 912, n.d. [1968]. 1 p. (two sided); ill.; 31 x 50 cm.; black and purple ink on white stock.

Two-sided poster released by Ed. 912 to promote the publication of l’estremismo coerente dei situazionisti, the first Italian language compendium of Situationist texts.

Side A: (1) Italian translation of Khayati’s “Contributions servant à rectifier l’opinion du public sur la révolution dans les pays sous-développés” (which was initially published in Internationale Situationniste 11 in October 1967); (2) front and back covers of the book L’estremismo coerente dei situazionisti.

Side B: Two detournements: (1) Mao shown reading a speech, stating “Noi seguiamo una politica consistente nell’unificare, nel criticare ed educare la borghesia nazionale” (Trans: “We do not follow a policy of unifying, criticizing and educating the national bourgeoisie”). The text is taken from Mao’s speech at the Eleventh Session of the Supreme State Conference, and was published in the People’s Daily on June 19, 1957. A longer excerpt (for context) follows

The contradiction between the national bourgeoisie and the working class is one between exploiter and exploited, and is by nature antagonistic. But in the concrete conditions of China, this antagonistic contradiction between the two classes, if properly handled, can be transformed into a non-antagonistic one and be resolved by peaceful methods. However, the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie will change into a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy if we do not handle it properly and do not follow the policy of uniting with, criticizing and educating the national bourgeoisie, or if the national bourgeoisie does not accept this policy of ours

(2) A naked Miss Martine Crown, from Miami Beach Florida, stating “La facilita con cui gli studenti si soddisfano dice tutto sulla lor impotenza. La rivoluzione proletaria o sara una festa o non sara” (trans: The ease with which students are satisfied says everything about their impotence. The proletarian revolution will either be a celebration or it will not be”). At the bottom of the page: “appropriandosi delle miserabili ideologie delle burocrazie sedicente socialiste del terzo mondo, gli studendi non fanno che riprodurre un frammento della passivita’ che opprime utti” (trans: “appropriating the miserable ideologies of the self-styled socialist bureaucracies of the third world, the students only reproduce a fragment of the passivity that oppresses all”)

Not on OCLC or in the trade

For an English language broadside of the same text, see: https://situationnisteblog.com/2013/06/04/contributions-serving-to-rectify-the-opinion-of-the-public-concering-the-revolution-in-underveloped-countries-1973/

For a Spanish language broadside of the same text, see: https://situationnisteblog.com/2014/08/13/la-verdad-de-los-paises-subdesarrollados-en-la-revolucion-internacional-1973/

For the book l’Estremismo coerente dei situazionisti, see https://situationnisteblog.com/2020/02/18/lestremismo-coerente-dei-situazionisti-1968/

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