Beuyscouts of Amerika is an international activist art collective founded in New York City in 1989 by artist Norman Conquest. It was initially 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.
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“…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.” —Cynthia Koch
The first official scout work appeared in New York City’s SoHo district. It was a series of ant-censorship decals (“Good Helmskeeping Seal of Approval…No Fag Art or Blasphemy” etc.). which were plastered on phone booths, mailboxes, and gallery windows. Word of the decals quickly spread throughout the art world and they were reproduced in various publications such as the Village Voice and Andy Warhol’s Interview. Thus,the mischievous underground art troop was on the map and in the censor’s line of fire.
In 1992, Beuyscout Editions released “Piss Bush,” a scout multiple consisting of a transparency of President George H. W. Bush submerged in a bottle of urine. This added a political twist to the controversy over Andres Serranos’ “Piss Christ.” Other inflammatory works were produced by talented scouts such as Gerard Barbot, Marcello Diotallevi (Italy), Tarzana Savannah, Stefan Szczelkun (U.K.), Farewell Debut, KlausGroh (Germany), General Idea (Canada), A.1. Waste Paper Company (UK), Anna Banana (Canada), and the notorious Guerrilla Girls, among others.
With the reemergence of the Republican culture wars and the recent GOP assault on women, Beuyscouts are on the march again.
Artists and writers interested in participating should visit our Activities page for details.
WHAT IS LETTER BOMB?
With its roots in the mail art movement, Letter Bomb preceded the Beuyscouts by several years. It was edited by Norman Conquest and appeared irregularly in various formats. Scout-related contributions are welcome.