Karen Eliot

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Karen Eliot is a multiple identity, a shared pen name that anyone is welcome to use for activist and artistic endeavours. It is a manifestation of the "open pop star" idea within the Neoist movement.[1] The name was developed in order to counter the male domination of that movement, the most predominant multiple-use names previously being Monty Cantsin and Luther Blissett.[2]

The experimental composers and artists David Chokroun, Aydem Azmikara, André Éric Létourneau, Marc Couroux, Engram Knots, and Vanessa Grey have used "Karen Eliot" to collectively and anonymously write musical compositions during and throughout their lifetimes. According to writer Eldritch Priest, as a composer "Karen Eliot belongs to nobody and is no one...the collective nature and schematic indirection of 'Karen Eliot' circulates her contradictions and inconsistencies in a way that keeps doubt and the status of her reality in play."[3] Many of André Éric Létourneau's radio-art works are also signed by Karen Eliot.[4]

History of multiple-use names[edit]

These multiple names were developed and popularized in artistic subcultures of the 1970s to 1990s like Mail Art, Neoism and post-Situationist discourse, with the pseudonym Rrose Sélavy – jointly used by Dada artist Marcel Duchamp and the surrealist poet Robert Desnos – forming a historical precedent, as did the poetry of Taliesin. The political references go back much further, for instance to Ned Ludd.

In the 1960s underground culture the multiple name Emmett Grogan was adopted by San Francisco Diggers. In the 1970s the multiple name Wally was adopted by The Wallies of Wessex, a group of squatters in and around Stonehenge.[citation needed]



  1. ^ N O Cantsin (April 2010). A Neoist Research Project. N.O. Cantsin. pp. 161–. ISBN 978-1-906496-46-3.
  2. ^ Bloch, Mark. Pan-Neoist Source Document http://www.panmodern.com/neoism-intro.html
  3. ^ Eldritch Priest (11 April 2013). Boring Formless Nonsense: Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 137–. ISBN 978-1-4411-4616-8.
  4. ^ Lander Dan (1994). Radio Rethink : Art, Sound and Transmission : Selected Survey of Radio Art in Canada, 1967-1992. ISBN 9780920159668.


  • Anonymous (Eliot, K.) (1999) The academic exploitation of bottom up urban practices, Lightning Source, Milton Keynes.

External links[edit]

  • Where's Wally - The origins of the multiple identity Wally in 1970s pop festivals and underground culture.
  • Karen Eliot's MNK Investigation - A fictional revolutionary organisation, the MNK, is investigated by a fictional Karen Eliot.