Istvan Kantor

Posted on

Neoist Research Center

Upon my arrival to ComPeung I will set up a Neoist Research Center. My office will be basically my living space extended with other site specific areas on the land of ComPeung.

I’m not going to Thailand as a missionary but rather as a burned out art-criminal and failed revolutionary who wants to be refueled with new ideas, recharged in mind and body, accumulate wisdom, get ready to take on the world again.

I want to learn about how to internalize revolutionary ideas. To work with the images and identity of our internal revolution, the way in which we conceive of ourselves and society and thus, in creating this inspiration for self and mutual understanding that motivates us to live revolutionary lives.


Of course I want to explore and experiment in order to learn about Neoism. What does Neoism mean for the people in Thailand? Is ComPeung the Promised Land of Neoism? Is there a Neoist Revolution in Chiang Mai? From previous experience I know that there are Neoists everywhere in the world. My goal in ComPeung will be to meet local Neoists.

I initiated the Neoist Conspiracy in 1979, in Montreal, Canada. The small group of local subversives evolved into a world wide communication network. Of course Neoism is only a name. Anyone can be a Neoist by doing everything in the name of Neoism. Many Neoists also use the name Monty Cantsin, regardless of sex, religion or other differences, to convince and confuse the world through the open-pop-star concept. I’m looking forward to meeting the Thai open-pop-stars during my residency at ComPeung.

I expect to have meetings, discussions, bike rides, conferences, collective actions, performances, convulsive events with the participation of local Neoists. It will be a continuous Apartment / Department Festival, a Neoist Training Camp in search for the revolutionary ideals of creative survival. Activities will include the ceremonial initiation of the Tree of Life meeting station, a Neoist memorial and monument, a new landmark for the ComPeung community and a tribute to the immortal spirit of dead Neoist revolutionaries.

Neoists know that life is suffering but all Neoists seem to enjoy life to the fullest.

I have written my original notes on rice paper and swallowed them.

Istvan Kantor Monty Cantsin? Amen!


Neoist Research Center



FRI 07 DEC 07 @ Minimal Gallery, Chiang Mai

online review re. the Neoist event:


Istvan Kantor (aka “Monty Cantsin”, and “Amen!”) (born 27 August 1949 in Budapest) is a Hungarian born Canadian performance and video artist, industrial music and electropop singer, and founder of Neoism.

In the 1970s, he studied medicine, but also participated in the underground arts scene of communist Budapest around Laszlo Beke as a folk singer. In 1976, he met the American prankster and Mail Artist David Zack at Art Club Budapest who then toured through Europe with his mail art collection. Encouraged by Zack to work with him in America, he emigrated via Paris to Montreal and, in 1978, lived one year with Zack and Blaster Al Ackerman in Portland, Oregon, encountering and working with artists both from Mail Art and industrial music scene. He was one of a couple of persons to whom Zack suggested to adopt the multiple identity Monty Cantsin, but only Kantor took up this proposal seriously and adopted the Cantsin identity to the point where it became chiefly associated with him. Back to Montreal, he organized a Mail Art show “The Brain in the Mail” and gathered a group of people, many of them teenagers or in their early 20s, under the moniker of Neoism. Soon afterwards, Neoism expanded into an international subcultural network that collectively used the Monty Cantsin identity.

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Immortal Gift, Berlin, Nov. 22, 2004
Immortal Gift, Berlin, Nov. 22, 2004

Kantor’s own work in the late 1970s and early 1980s consisted most notably of the “Blood Campaign”, an ongoing series of performances in which he takes his own blood and splashes it onto walls, canvases or into the audience, often in combination with singing electropop songs that mix elements of New Wave and industrial music, Hungarian folksongs and Neoist manifesto lyrics, combined with para-military clothing and punk hairstyles. These performances, the style of which Kantor has maintained and developed until today, can be seen as an ostensibly theatrical and subtly humorous travesty of 1970s body art shock performances like those of Chris Burden and the Vienna Actionists. Kantor expanded the theatrical, opera-like quality of his performances through the medium of video which gained him international recognition and awards as a video performance artist from the 1980s until today. At the same time, he continued to work within the Neoist network, co-organizing and participating in a series of Neoist festivals, which began as Apartment Festivals (“APTs”) between 1980 and 1988 and were continued in 1997 and 2004. Just like his enemy Stewart Home, he has been controversial within Neoism for allegedly using the movement as a publicity vehicle for himself.

Neoist Passport
Neoist Passport

Recent work involves noise installations and performances with electrically modified file cabinets. He also founded the “Machine Sex Action Group” which realizes theatrical cyber-futuristic body performances in an S/M style. The human body in its relation to machines, explored both in its apocalyptic and subversive potentials remains a major theme of his work. His more controversial works involve vandalism and gore, painting large X’s in his own blood on the walls of modern art museums, and in doing so he has been banned from many of the world’s art galleries, a status he holds with pride. In 2004, he threw a vial of his own blood on a wall beside a sculpture of Michael Jackson by Paul McCarthy in the Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum of Berlin. In March of 2004 he was awarded the Canadian Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media arts.