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The Cacophony Society

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As part of the exhibition “Evil Clowns” at The Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV), Dortmund, and echoing Constant Dullaart’s project, High Retention, Slow Delivery, presented on Jeu de Paume’s online creative space, the Jeu de Paume hosted a conference by John Law, a member of the Cacophony Society San Francisco, presented by the journalist Marie Lechner and by Inke Arns, artistic Director of the HMKV.

The Cacophony Society is a randomly gathered network of misfits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society. It was started in 1986 by surviving members of the now dead Suicide Club of San Francisco.

Adrenaline spike lovers but also amateurs of fun, gargantuan jokes and demonstrations against everything and anything, the cacophonists helped fighting against cultural arteriosclerosis following the slogan that homemade entertainment is better than that sold in stores. Cacophony events often involve costumes and pranks in public places and sometimes going into places that are generally off limits to the public.

They founded the Burning Man festival, an ephemeral city emerging every year in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. But also the Billboard Liberation Front, which for thirty years, has “corrected” or improved billboards, or even launched the now famous SantaCon, where naughty Santas pack unleashed in stores and shopping malls in the holiday season. Their unbridled creativity may have inspired the media hoaxes of the Yes Men, the communication guerrilla activists from Adbusters, or the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. They could be considered as the grandfathers of flash mobs, urban games, advertising highjacking and even the Zombie walks.

More information about the Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society
Exhibition “Evil Clowns” at HMKV, Dortmund
Enregistrement sonore de la conférence de John Law au Jeu de Paume
Constant Dulaart, High Retention, Slow Delivery, on Jeu de Paume online art Platform

Homepage : John Law at the “Meat Parade”, 1997. Photo: Maya Hayuk.