:: Article

Dear Reader, I Spit On You – A Book and an Exhibition

By Steve Finbow.

Bukaka Spat Here

Alexander Brener/Barbara Schurz, Bukaka Spat Here (Vargas Organisation 2002). 17 Drawings from Bukaka, The Function Room, upstairs at The Cock Tavern, 23 Phoenix Road, London NW1 1HB.

What is this? Is it a novel? Is it an anti-novel? Is it an anti-anti-novel? Is it a comic book about the exploits of an outrageous superhero – Bukaka? Is it a joke? It is perhaps all of these things and none. The core idea behind this book may be Alfred Jarry’s assertion that, “We shall not have succeeded in demolishing everything unless we demolish the ruins as well. But the only way I can see of doing that is to use them to put up a lot of fine, well-designed buildings.” Brener/Schurz use the rubble of literature to further destroy capitalist power structures:

Basically we have to fight on three linked fronts: on a political, economic and cultural one! On political front we have to storm and abolish all centres of power: parliaments, ‘White Houses’, ‘Kremlins’, secret services, ministries and so on. We must ruin it literally! On the economic front we have to get rid of monetarist relations and establish a non-hierarchical order from which all policemen must be shocked. Immediately! And on the cultural front we have to spit on elitist and populist aesthetic representations and build non-discriminative radical-democratic forms of creativity. Or anti-creativity!

Iconoclastic to the last, Brener/Schurz even spit on their father/precursor, “Don’t read it! Fuck it! Smash it! Don’t eat it! All literature texts are a crematorium full of ashes! When I was a teenager a (sic) read too much Lautreamount (sic) and Jarry! I read too much Dumas! That’s the origin of all this equatorial carousels and other rhetoric garbage! FORGET IT! DEMOLISH IT! PISS ON IT!”

bukaka spittle

Adorning… no, adorning is not quite the word – let’s go for defiling. Defiling the white walls of The Function Room in Somers Town, London, are 17 illustrations from the book. The one above portrays Bukaka’s magical and ruinous spittle. It is the spit of art punks, the venom of cultural cobras; it dissolves and destroys Bukaka’s enemies. It is more scatological than Boris Vian, more vitriolic than Johnny Rotten. It is the superpower Bukaka – the muscular black woman with a huge white dildo between her legs – unleashes upon the forces of repression and oppression.

Sitting downstairs in the pub – The Cock Tavern – before and after visiting the exhibition, I was reading the short stories of Heinrich von Kleist and, surprisingly, the German Romantic writer shares with Brenner/Schurz the paradox and contradictions of a melancholic vitality and a schizophrenic rationality. The subversion of narrative expectations and the use of the body/sexuality as sites of resistance are forms of textual and political transgression, “DEAR READER! Now I want to make one more hole in this narrative and declare that everything said above is incredible bullshit.”

Bukaka is a black female Burundian Don Quixote; her Sancho Panzas are Blondie the white panther, the rat, Candy Darling and a succession of lovers, including Muammar Gaddafi and Karl M. Her lance is her trusty dildo and the giants she tilts at are, among others, Michael Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Noam Chomsky. She is internationalist, she transmogrifies, she becomes a fly, a zeppelin, she survives a suicide bomber and transforms into a single magic tooth of destruction, extermination and retaliation.

I’m a tooth, tooth, tooth,
In my youth, youth, youth!
Derrida my muse,
My surface is smooth!

Bukaka’s attacks on Western hegemony are mirrored in the text’s inclusion of ‘borrowed’ passages, uncorrected spellings and rethinks, narrative leaps and elisions. The book’s physical violence and intrinsic intertextual plagiarism are direct attacks on Western politics, art and literature – “CONSUMERISM, CONFORMISM AND TOURISM ARE TODAY’S CUBISM, FUTURISM AND DADAISM.” Bukaka also rejects other forms of revolt, claiming, “so-called legal forms of RESISTANCE maintain and reproduce the shitty status quo”. In her strident call for pure revolution and freedom, Bukaka even goes so far as to prefigure object-oriented ontology: “SO REVOLUTION MEANS EQUALITY FOR GARLIC, STARS AND HUMAN BEINGS.”

bukaka dildo

The book is bespattered with spittle and laughter; black comedy and a surprising ennui amalgamate into melancholy (black bile). The targets of Bukaka’s caustic emissions include Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Haim Steinbach, Cindy Sherman, Louis Bourgeois, Chris Ofili and Thomas Hirschhorn. These artists have their alter egos in politicians such as Mr Truman, Mr Eisenhower, Mr Kennedy, Mr Johnson, Mr Nixon, Mr Ford, Mr Carter, Mr Bush senior and Mr Clinton. In fact, like Bukaka herself, her spittle and her vituperative comedy is global: “Fuck you, vampire country United States of America!!! And fuck you, United Kingdom!!! And fuck you, European Union!!! And fuck you, Russia!!! And fuck you, all satellites!!!” Her aesthetic and political interests are more aligned to outsiders such as Jean Genet, Nedd Ludd, Velimir Chlebnikov and the Unabomber.

But this is not throwaway nihilism or disposable postmodernism; the exhibition’s black and white drawings are colourful in their subject matter and humorous in execution, mixing together a blaxploitation-science-fiction-situationist vibe portraying Bukaka, her sidekicks and her weapons in all their monochromatic glory. The book’s aesthetics (or anti-aesthetics, or anti-anti-aesthetics) materially mirror the do-it-yourself nature of the prose. On the back cover are invented blurbs from Noam Chomsky, Stewart Home, Donna J Haraway and a number of newspapers. The multicoloured pages are of differing grades and stapled together, giving the publication a somewhat samizdat feel.

Vargas Organisation, the press behind Bukaka Spat Here, publishes and distributes editions of artists’ works, chapbooks, catalogues, plus documents from the International Necronautical Society. Other Vargas Brener and Schurz publications include Demolish Serious Culture!!! (2000), which, illustrated and in German and Russian prose and verse, attempts to do just that; The Art of Destruction (2004), a collection of stories, essays, verse and drawings on anti-art, anti-philosophy and politics; Fuck Off and Die Alone (2013), a ‘found’ volume of drawings and texts; Claim Against Fame (2012) a book of illustrated epigrams and urban legends that ‘tells you the things you want to know about fame and notoriety, obscurity and hiddenness, and also what to eat, what to wear, how to fuck and how to fight all apparatuses of power and authority’; and The Exploits and Opinions of Mafalda, The Girl (2014), which I would describe as a very, very graphic novel. Vargas Organisation also publishes works on or by William Burroughs, Anča Daučíková, Marlene Haring, Stewart Home, Tom McCarthy, Katrin Plavčak and Ian Whittlesea. Bukaka Spat Here and its attendant exhibition showcase the admixture of art and text, of art and politics, of art and philosophy and of art and humour (however black) that are the essential components of work exhibited at The Function Room.


Steve Finbow

Steve Finbow’
s fiction includes Balzac of the Badlands (Future Fiction London, 2009), Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom (Grievous Jones Press, 2011), Nothing Matters (Snubnose Press, 2012). His biography of Allen Ginsberg in Reaktion’s Critical Lives series was published in 2011. His latest works are Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia (Zero Books, 2014) and Down Among the Dead (Number Thirteen Press, 2014). He is now writing a non-fiction analysis of physical illness and creativity for Repeater Books.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, February 8th, 2016.