Blood Campaign Intro 2005

Invisible Gift Photographs

I initiated Blood Campaign in 1979 in Montreal.   My principal purpose was to finance the operations of the Neoist Conspiracy by selling my blood as an art object.

In order to increase the value of my blood I used the feedback mechanism of mystification-de mystification process. I turned my blood into gold to de mystify the notion of the art object. I resumed my theory in a simple equation: LIFE=ART=LIFE

I gained access to the media by employing various tools of subversion, like creating scandals in art galleries, using confrontational guerilla actions in museums, pushing myself into conflicts with the authorities, etc. I carried out performances which were offensive, violent, dangerous, delirious, fascist, rebellious, perverse. I paid tribute to the beauty of vandalism as the ultimate act of creation. I introduced the method of surprise intervention in the form of my blood-x action, the perfect gesture to trigger the whole system. I accomplished a great deal of work through subverting the rules, getting in trouble with the landlords, institutions and the police.

I knew that they were all working for me by trying to stop me, by ignoring my ideas, discrediting my work, arresting me for being an artist, putting me in jail for making art.

The act of blood taking became permanent part of my performances. In each performance I collected a few vials of my own blood with the assistance of a nurse or doctor or I was doing it myself. (I note that I studied medicine and I am also registered nurse)

I usually kept one tube of blood for my own collection and used the rest in my actions. Besides splashing my blood on the walls of museums I also created other sculptural and performance works. For example inserted a tube of blood into my anus, made blood soups, gave blood kisses, splashed it on the white costume of a ballerina or on the naked body of my pregnant wife, offered blood tubes to male or female friends for masturbation, made bloody t-shirts... I also made more traditional kind of works on paper or on canvas, and organized blood donations for the Red Cross, etc.

During a historical performance in a bar in Montreal, on february 24, 1981, I sold two test tubes of my own blood, each containing10ml blood, to two art collectors for only $20. This meant that the value of my blood was one $ per milliliter.

I estimated that the value of my blood increased radically through the first couple of years of production. In 1981 I made a diagram that illustrated the increasing value of my blood. According to this diagram by 1984 my blood reached the value of one million $ per milliliter. This also meant that my blood basically became unmarketable given its overrated price.

Therefore I introduced the idea of Blood Lottery so people could win my blood by buying tickets for only a dollar. The winner could either take the money or the blood. But before the lucky winner would choose I would advise him or her:

1/ You need money, not art

2/ You need art, not money

3/ In a few years you will still use this money, but what will you do with my blood?

4/ In a few years this money will loose its present value but that of my blood will be increased!

I calculated that the Blood Lottery will become popular very fast and people will hurry to participate all over the world. I only needed 10 million people to establish the one million $ per milliliter price of my blood.

To promote my campaign I initiated another idea. I announced through the media that people can win an original blood-x painting directly made in their home on the wall. On my promotional material I posed the following strategical question: "Why would you dream about spending 80 million or more on a used Van Gogh when you can have a brand new fresh blood painting of Istvan Kantor Monty Cantsin for FREE!"

These are only a few examples of the many efforts I made to increase the value of my blood. I have to confess that the financial side of my campaign has failed and I'm just as broke today than I was 25 years ago when I started it. On the other hand I believe I didn't waste my blood but rather discovered its creative power through my own struggle. It is this creative power that I intend to commemorate and immortalize with the making of Invisible Gift / Invisible Monument designed for the new AGO.

For more information on Istvan Kantor's work please visit