Brave New Avant Garde: Essays on Contemporary Art and Politics
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Brave New Avant Garde is a collection of essays that ask the questions: what is an adequate model of contemporary avant garde practice and what are its theoretical premises? With this it asks the related question, echoing Alain Badiou: must the avant garde hypothesis be abandoned? Brave New Avant Garde stands in opposition to postmodern post-politics and the view that radical practice has no other future than its reduction to the workings of the free market in the form of the "simple process of cultural production" or to variations on the cultural politics of representation. Today's avant garde, formed in the wake of the end of the Soviet Union and the rise of the anti-globalization movement, represents a counter-power that rejects the inevitability of capitalist integration. The way out for artists in today's world of creative industries is defined in these pages as a psychoanalytically informed sinthomeopathic practice, a critical identification with prevailing conditions of production that avoids the surplus enjoyment of the ideology of postmodern pluralism.
the “quasi-detached perspective of the artist,” a tendency or affective complex that I argue he should ascribe to the field of cultural production itself, including consumer culture, rather than to individuals.15 What was less predictable was the hostility with which he sought to defend the grounds of community art against Bishop’s idea of participation, a stance that resulted in his accusation that she is part of a “paranoid consensus” to protect the institutionalized art world.16 This
categories with which we had little or no sympathy. – Critical Art Ensemble In 1984 Krzysztof Wodiczko wrote a broadside against the Canadian cultural state bureaucracy titled “For the DeIncapacitation of the Avant-Garde.”1 The article addressed the contradictions of incorporating “left” and “libertarian” ideas into a centralized state bureacratic system. Having come from Poland, where artists at that time feared assimilation into the technocratic rationality of the state apparatus, the
mediated according to its social conditions of production, a notion that was best expressed by Walter Benjamin in his essay on “The Author as Producer.”7 The institutionalization of this critical or realist approach to autonomy by the capitalist culture industries, Bürger argued, had led in the postwar period to the separation of art from praxis and from the radical confrontation with class society. According to Jochen Schulte-Sasse’s introduction to the English translation of Bürger’s book, it
everyday life. In his Critique of Everyday Life (1947) he excoriated Surrealism and praised instead Brecht’s work for its clarification of contradictions, a task that could be carried out from within conditions of alienation. Art, like knowledge, engages with living thought and with the concrete world and can be helpful in orienting practice. Echoing Marx’s critique of tendenzkunst, Lefebvre argued that there can be no Marxist art as such, only a Marxist theory of art. It is therefore wrong to
Press, 1993). 9. In one of the more well-known critiques of Bürger’s thesis, Hal Foster argues that the neo-avant gardes can be better understood through the concept of deferred action. Foster’s work develops from some of the practices that may not and could not, for historical reasons, have been known to Bürger, beginning with the institutional critical work of Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren and Michael Asher through to the discourse analysis of Fred Wilson, Andrea Fraser and Renée Green and