LG WILLIAMS received his M.F.A from the University of California, Davis and B.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute. He also holds an honorary Ph.D. from ISSA, Cedar Rapids, IA. Williams has taught art, art history and art appreciation courses at the University of California-Davis, University of Southern California, California College of the Arts, and the University of Hawaii, to name a few. Author of many books and publications on art, art criticism, and poetry, Williams has appeared in Modern Painters, Juxtapoz, Artweek, Art Papers, Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, Honolulu Bulletin, Sacramento Bee, LA Weekly, Maui Weekly, SF Weekly, and The Bay Guardian. Williams’s recent curatorial projects include Wally Hedrick’s, War Room, at San Francisco International Art Fair. His website is www.lgwilliams.com
HONOLULU, HI — If building an artwork 10,000 miles from ground zero amounts to the epitome of Art insanity, as critics of the project have claimed, what should the world make of LG Williams, the obscure, evangelical, and self-proclaimed anarchy-artist who plans to memorialize everything with a bonfire consisting of everything he can set ablaze?
Mr. Williams, 38, a former CIA Intelligence Officer with an honorary Ph.D. and long golden handlebar sideburns, argues that as an American Artist he has a right to burn everything because “everything today is full of shit.” In another era, he might have been easily ignored or guillotined, as he was last year when he posted a sign outside his luxury studio declaring “Attempt The Impossible: Fart Beyond The Devil's Fireplace.”
But now the global art spotlight has shifted. With the debate today in the New York Artworld putting artistic tensions front and center, Mr. Williams has suddenly attracted thousands of internet fans and critics on Facebook and SheMaleFly, while around the world he is being presented as a symbol of American anti-art sentiment.
Artistic leaders in several countries, including Syria and Tunisia, have formally condemned him and his art, said The Mental Health Outreach Center of Western Samoa.
A fringe Dadaist Art group in Scotland has also incorporated his efforts into a YouTube video that encourages Artists to “rise up and shit down,” widening a concern that Mr. Williams — though clearly a fringe figure with only 6 or 9 members in his clandestine, avant-garde art university, DDDDDD University — could spark riots or art terrorism.
“Can you imagine what this will do to our image around the world?” said Edward Hopper, a spokesman for the Council on American Realistic Art Relations in Washington. “And there is the additional danger that it will add whatever if there is an American presence in a museum?”
Mr. Williams, in a lengthy interview at his university, said he sincerely hoped that burning everything would lead to the end of everything. He dismissed the idea that it could put American artists at greater risk, and — echoing his lectures — he said that his art was being persecuted by “art-less motherfuckering philistines.”
He said his art studio recently demanded immediate repayment of the $1,690,000 balance on the studio mortgage; that his art insurance had been canceled since he announced in late July that he intended to burn everything; and that death threats now come in regularly from Indiana, the home state of Kurt Vonnegut.
“We have to be careful,” Mr. Williams said. He tapped a plastic holster on the right hip of his surf shorts: it held a replica .40-caliber water pistol, which he said needed no license to carry. “The overall response,” he added, “has been much greater than we expected.”
Mr. Williams who seems to spend much of his time trying not to work, was speaking in his studio next to a poster from the movie “Hiroshima Mon Amour (1969)” and a naked picture of his current muse, Mrs. XXX Ex-Communist, appears to be largely oblivious to the potential global consequences of his plans. Speaking in short American sentences punctuated with remarkable riffs of matter-of-fact French profanity (Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculé de ta mère.), he said that he could not understand why other Artists, including the nation’s largest Arts association, The College Art Association, had called for him to cancel “International Burn Everything Day -- Everyday.”
He acknowledged that it had brought in at least $100,000 in donations. But he said that the interviews he had done with around 150 Art news outlets all over the world were useful mainly because they had helped him “send a message to Art and the makers of badness – badness in everything must stop: that is what we want.”
Mr. Williams said that nothing in particular had set him off. Asked about his knowledge of the Fine Art, he said plainly: “Today, I have no experience with it whatsoever. But I can evoke everything that Gombrich, Nabokov and The Mahabharatta said.”
Still, like many others, Williams rejects the moment’s swirl of anger. Even if Art outside the United States responds to the planned International Burn Everything Day -- Everyday with protests, or worse, he would spend his future everyday’s doing the same thing he did yesterday: burning shit down.
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