Index: Istvan Kantor
Istvan Kantor is a Canadian performance and video artists, industrial and electro pop singer and founder of Neoism. He is also known as Monty Cantsin. Kantor was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, where he studied medicine. In 1976 he emigrated to Montreal via Paris. He is currently at home in Toronto, where in the 1990s his three children Jericho, Babylon, and Nineveh were born.
His main theme is the struggle for individuality in a technological society. During the last three decades, he was often arrested for his guerrilla operations in museums. He also received many awards, including the Telefilm Canada Award for Best Canadian Film (1998), the Transmediale Award (2001) in Berlin, the Governor General’s Award for Visual and media arts (2004) and the European Media Art Award (2009) in Osnabrück.
In the 1970s he was part of the underground art scene around Laszlo Beke in Communist Budapest. In 1976 he met American mail artists David Zack at Budapest Art Club, who then toured with his mail art Collektion through Europe. Encouraged by Zack, he emigrated to Montreal. In 1978 he lived with Zack and Al Blaster Ackerman in Portland, Oregon, where he work with both mail artists and artists from the Industrial music scene. Kantor was one of the many, to whom Zack suggested to adopt the multiple identity of 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. In Montreal, he organized the mail art show The Brain in the Mail (1979) and brought together young people from around the world under the term Neoism, who collectively used the Monty Cantsin identity.
Kantor’s most famous work of the late 1970s and early 1980s was his Blood Campaign, a continuous performance in which he threw his own blood on walls, screens or at the audience, often in combination with his own electro-songs, that mixed elements of New Wave, Industrial and Hungarian folklore. They are considered a subtle travesty of the performances of the Vienna Actionists. Often he used his own blood to paint a big X on the walls of modern museums. In 2004, he threw a vial of blood on a wall beside a sculpture of Michael Jackson by Paul McCarthy in the Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin.
1979 The Brain in the Mail