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Brain in the Mail / Istvan Kantor, curator ; Zack D ; Kantor I ; Erikson J ; Nielsen MO ; Larter P ; Dreva J ; Gruber H ; Below P ; DeJonge K ; Carrion U ; Klivar M ; Lisboa U ; Crozier R ; Filliou R ; Johnson R ; Martel R ; Gaglione B ; Zabala H ; Dyar M ; Lomholt N ; Wolf-Rehfeldt R ; Todorovic M ; Musicmaster ; Ackerman A ; Stake C ; Farkus AM ; Knowles A ; Hompson DD ; Colby S ; Kostelanetz R ; Spiegelman L ; Andre C ; Banana A ; Madam X ; Duch LF ; Marx Vigo GE ; Perfetti M ; Nannucci M ; Frangione N ; Danon B ; Albrecht d ; Rehfeldt R ; Rabascall J ; Blaine J ; Szombathy B ; Katalin L ; Petasz P ; Sorensen WL ; Fine AM ; Butler R ; Gibbs M., 1980

Identifier: CC-50685-71759

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Scope and Contents

Istvan Kantor aka Monty Cantsin was the curator. He was born August 27, 1949, in Budapest and is a 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. Zack encouraged Kantor to join him in America; Kantor 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 from Mail Art and the 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 this proposal seriously and adopted the Cantsin identity to the extent that it became chiefly associated with him. Returning 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. 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. 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 {fact}. 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. 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 2004, he was awarded the Canadian Governor General's Award in Visual and Media arts. -- Source of annotation: Marvin or Ruth Sackner.


  • Creation: 1980



0 See container summary (1 soft cover book (79 pages)) ; 25.3 x 17.6 x .5 cm

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Physical Location

shelf alphabeti

Custodial History

The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, on loan from Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner and the Sackner Family Partnership.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Bandt/Depew Linda, 2008.


Published: Quebec, Canada : Vehicule Art. Nationality of creator: Canadian. General: About 1000 total copies. General: Added by: MARVIN; updated by: MARVIN.

Repository Details

Part of the The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry Repository

125 W. Washington St.
Main Library
Iowa City Iowa 52242 United States