“Why did you shoot Andy Warhol?”

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Whilst researching Praxis 2 and the form of which a manifesto can take physically and linguistically, I came along a publication I’ve never heard of, but one that was world renowned in the late 1960’s: Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto.

SCUM was a self-published literary device of radical feminism, which featured chapters divided into sectional grievances against the male sex. Graphically, the acronym was shown on the original front cover, standing for “Society for Cutting up Men”. Solanas wrote that all women should aspire to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex”, demonstrating her extreme radicalised position that culminate in the attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968.

The story of Solanas is incredibly interesting, but to focus on how the manifesto works and what it represents and lead to is doubly so: An ultra radical piece of writing was a summary of a lifelong internalisation of male oppression and abuse. Being personal and written in passionate and explicit prose gave the manifesto political and satirical weight. For a manifesto to work, I believe it must be able to be read in such a manner that you are immediately drawn in and engaged with it, be it in a negative or positive reactionary way.

Some state that the manifesto was a pre-determination of her attack on Warhol. This is fascinating concept; a call to arms that contained a much more subversive and dangerous message. Could an Architectural manifesto do the same thing? To suggest a methodology and manner of approaching design whilst hiding a much more subversive and acute action?

SCUM’s satirical nature can be read as political fiction with a purpose, as all good literature has; to alter mindsets, contain deeper (often subversive) meanings, to entertain and to come from the deepest, most passionate part of the author, and finally, to sway public consciousness.

Researching this manifesto has left me with a conceptual format to try to adhere to, which will allow the writing to become more than  a series of recorded ideas. Being such a small book, I will read SCUM Manifesto in order to further engage with the style of prose, format and concept.

 

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