logo The Bloody Tool Grant Project

Almost every day, new arrays of satellites are hurled into the air: switchboards in the sky, hovering in geosynchronous orbit, remitting messages, insensitive to earthly distances. Other satellites circle the earth rapidly, surveying weather, land, minerals, people. New lines are laid down; optical fiber-glass replaces wire (mourn for the slaves of the old copper mines of Cyprus for Kennecott and think a while of hands cut off for Union Miniere in the old days in the Congo). Every year new computers come online and are re-interconnected as manufacturers try to configure incompatible computer architectures and languages, requiring the manufacture of new networking devices, plug-compatible hard and software as new models render old ones obsolete.

from Sol Yurick's
Behold Metatron, The Recording Angel

2004 Bloody Tool Grant

This year I asked the former grant recipients to nominate groups and individuals who could use the money. In one case I used their suggestions and in another I took someone else's:

Angelo: $200
Angelo is an artist and author who illustrated and wrote Prisoner's Inventions, a book documenting some of the wide variety of ingenious amenities people in prison have made to make life more livable. Angelo and the art group Temporary Services - who've been corresponding with the incarcerated artist for over ten years - collaborated with the publisher, White Walls, to make this book happen. My understanding is that Angelo has not yet been able to see the finished book, as it is considered contraband by the institution in which he is incarcerated. I have it on good authority that this money will go a long way in helping Angelo to continue his work, as well as support his soda habit.

Pink Bloque: $400
Pink Bloque coined the term "tactical flirting." They can often be seen at demonstrations and political rallies clad entirely in pink and bearing the slogan "2 cute 2B arrested." They are group of women bringing a much needed breath of fun to direct action and radical politics. Throwing impromptu dance parties in the streets, using popular music and hot dance moves they deliver their agenda to fellow radicals and a broader public. I hope this grant can help them to deliver their message in NYC at the Republican National Convention this August: "'Cause we're not in denial when we know we're not happy here, the Pink Bloque is going to challenge the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal empire..." Please come home safe Pink Bloque!

2004 Emergency Grant

In an effort support Steve Kurtz and the ongoing work of the Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) through a difficult time the NCA has given $200 to the legal defense fund of Steve Kurtz, CAE member.

Early on the morning of May 11th, Kurtz found his wife, Hope Kurtz, had died in her sleep. Kurtz called 911 for help and when the authorities arrived they noticed the lab equipment in his home, the tools of his art practice, and jumped to the conclusion that he was making bioweaponry. Despite tragedy Kurtz has faced an onslaught of paranoid questioning, his home has been occupied by hazmat teams, his lab equipment, computers, books, manuscripts, and even the body of his wife have been impounded. His work has no doubt been destroyed by this invasion. Read more about the situation at www.caedefensefund.org

The work of the Critical Art Ensemble has been a constant source of inspiration for the NCA since its inception. The implications of this unfolding tragedy are very far reaching for artists and tactical media practitioners all over the world. I send my condolences to Steve and hope that this gesture of support can help CAE to recover from this loss and continue their work.

The Bloody Tool Grant is given each Summer around the month of August to groups and individuals working on vital, innovative cultural projects. The regular 2004, non-emergency, winners will be announced around August.

2003 Bloody Tool Grant

Like last year there was neither an application or nomination process involved in the choosing of the 2003 grant winners. The decision as to who wins the money has not been based on any set criteria, it is an intuitive process, and my desire as always is to support independent, small-time cultural production. As I look at what is becoming my collection of winners, I find that most of their work emphasises some form of generosity. Whether it is the magnanamous and copious sharing of ideas, knowledge, resources, and connections of Temporary Services; John Wanzel's sharing of webspace here at stopGOstop; or Gleason's penchent for giving his books away before he makes it to Quimby's, where he stands a chance of making some of his money back, this year's winners follow suit. And they are:

Lucky Pierre: 200 big ones
I got very excited to give Chicago-based performance group, Lucky Pierre money to fund their project Cold Hard Cash. I talked LP member, Bill Talsma and we decided that I could not give them the money they needed to get this project off the ground. But I still felt compelled to support their work and I never wanted to dictate how the money gets used anyway. Lucky Pierre does remarkable work, they've got their dirty mits all over social justice, humor, generosity, and they work!

Working Bikes Coop: 200 bones
This initiative has only been going since 2001 and they have already shipped over 1,000 bikes to developing countries. Working Bikes Coop has salvaged thousands of bikes destined for land-fills for riders here in Chicago and around the world. Anyone can buy a very reasonably priced used bike from them, go to the shop pick out a bike you like and their all volunteer staff will make it work for you (tip them if you can). This is how all shopping should look in the future.

2002 Bloody Tool Grant

This year the grant process is vastly different from last year's. I am foregoing the application process, which did not work at all last year.

So the form that the project is taking this year may really look no different from simply donating money to a favorite "cause" of mine, in this case, indepedent cultural production. One might wonder, why make a project out of it?

My idea here, on a basic level, is to represent a kind of openess about money and giving. This is related it to ideas of philanthropy that Willaim Upski Wimsatt talks about in his book No More Prisons. He says that young people of privilidged backgrounds need to take responsibility for their wealth, be outspoken about it with friends and family, and learn how to connect with and support, in a spirit of humility, grassroots and progressive organizers. He calls it the "cool rich kids movement."

I want to be able to let this money fly off on the winds of indepedant cultural production, without the strings of a sense of debt, or shame. I want to talk about the power of giving away money, understand it, and see others affect it. Most of the people I know wouldn't criticise me for quietly buying new wardrobes from oldnavy, yet to give money to support people whose efforts I admire and talk about it, seems slightly risky.

With that in mind, the 2002 Bloody Tool Grant winners are:

Temporary Services: 200 smackers
Temporary Services is a group of four intense workers living in Chicago but getting all over the world organizing a broad range of projects, both their own and those of others, with thoughtful focus on situating the work in a broader social context than art is traditionally seen. Please check out their webpage! They are flowing with great ideas.


Dan Gleason: 100 bupky
Dan Gleason is a writer (among many things) who writes horribly entertaining and horribly short stories about struggling with sexual desire, kindness, loneliness, total assholes, poop, snot and that kind of basic rubbish. Please go to Quimby's look for his books which he dilegently keeps in stock there, also visit his page here on stopGOstop, http://www.stopgostop.com/dangleason, where you will find a few of his short stories.

What happened? 2001 Bloody Tool Grant

Despite the fact that not one application for the grant was turned in, it was awarded in two separate parts to two (or more) separate bodies.

In the first case betwene $40 and $60 in Bloody Tool Grant cash was awarded to an unknown body who chose not to turn in an application. The unknown body appearantly claimed the award quite beyond my authority at Chicago's Butcher Shop sometime between 10:00 p.m. April 28 and 11:00 a.m. April 29. Congratulations to whoever won that portion of the grant. Please feel free to email me with the details of your project, I'm currious about what you did with the money and how it turned out.

In the second case on August 2nd, 2001 I awarded the ramaining portion of the grant money ($35 or so) to my good friend John Wanzel who provides me with free web service (here at stopGOstop.com). Congratulations John! Don't forget to add it to your resume.

The fortunate winners:
Unknown (top) and
John Wanzel (bottom).

How the Bloody Tool Grant Project Began

I initiated the The Bloody Tool Grant Project as an artwork, hoping that it would broaden the scope of my first solo gallery show. That show was at Dogmatic in Chicago's beautiful Pilsen, south of the Loop. I hoped to add a more interactive aspect to the show as I asked myself very basic questions about money and ethics in giving away money. Just after the show at Dogmatic closed the piece moved to Chicago's finest untamed gallery/party venue, The Butcher Shop to be a part of the Department of Space and Land Reclaimantion show (DSLR). The Bloody Tool Grant was meant to be cash grant in excess of $100. It's estimated total was just under $100. Money for the grant came from the sales of Bloody Tool Buttons (see below) which were for sale, on the honor system, at the galleries; leave a dollar take a button. Over 30 buttons were sold at Dogmatic. It is unclear as to how many buttons were sold at the DSLR show. I made over two hundred buttons, each one a kind of origional, very simple, painting.

Applications were given out at the galleries and distributed-on a very small scale-in public places near The Chicago Cultural Center and Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. I tried to make the application simple and tried to allow for anonymity so as not to discourage wild or clandestine project ideas. Applications were due on July 1st. Not a single application was turned in; no one applied. Click to view 2001 application. This project has been a failure on many levels.

About the Bloody Tool Button

Making the Bloody Tool Buttons is a two part process.

First I had to acquire the buttons from Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).

The buttons I used are very similar to those that visitors are required to wear while in the museum. You might be familiar with this type of button that many museums use. The function of this small aluminum disc bearing the museum's logo is to differentiate museum visitors who have paid the admission donation from those who have not. Visitors not wearing a button are asked by museum security to go to the admissions desk and square up.

The buttons I used for this project, however, have a slightly different function. These buttons bear an iconic fork and knife (the international sign for food for sale) and are given to visitors who only intend to visit the museum cafe not the exhibition galleries. If someone wearing one of these buttons is spotted in the galleries they too are asked to report to the admissions desk and square up.

After acquiring the buttons it is simply a matter of adding a few strokes of glossy red enamel on the pointy parts of the flatware. The red paint is intended to refer to the blood shed inherent in all cultural production.

I will be returning all of the unsold Bloody Tool Buttons to the MCA*, where I hope they will stay in circulation for the cafe goers to enjoy.

* As of May 2002 and I have returned a protion of the remaining buttons to the MCA, maybe thirty or so. But it's only now that I am statring to see how this gesture, as it stands, is problematic. I'm worried about it. I can see a way in which this might seem like a gesture of hostility, a threatening act. It is not hostile. I do not pose a threat. But, especially given that it might be construed as a threat, I need to do something to take responsibilty for the act, and comunicate my assurence that I do not pose a threat. The anonymity is a problem.

Projects and resources related to The Bloody Tool Grant:

Lucky Pierre Cold Hard Cash
On the back burner as of August 2003, Cold Hard Cash "is a public art piece that is part performance, part social event, part luck, and lots of money. We will give away our hard-won grant money by distributing instant scratch-off lottery tickets to the general public." I really hope they can get funding for this project. More info about CHC, http://www.luckypierre.org/lotterynow.html

William Upski Wimsatt
No More Prisons
This is a great book, adressing a huge range of topics and audiences, for anyone interested in organizing, art, writing, music, people, or stuff. In Chicago go buy it at Quimby's, elsewhere order it from the punkrock publisher Softskell Press. Here's a quote from the section called "Cool Rich Kids Movement": "We are asking our parents to teach us about money. We are helping our families make responsible decisions about investments. Some of us are getting on the boards of family foundations or helping our families to start them. We introduce each other to amazing grassroots people to break the isolation of wealth."

Adventure Philanthropy
"Adventure Philanthropy connects the passions of uncommonly rich, famous and powerful people with grassroots social change organizations to strategically change history for the common good."