Prelude to a Residency at the ICI – Part 2
by Martin Gantman
ICI Residency 2016
Notes on the Hidden Avant Garde – Or, If I Was Exhibiting, Would I Give A Shit!
Second thoughts (Beginning 3.24.16):
- OK. Let’s start over. Forget about art. Forget about exhibiting. Forget about all of the art world issues that are commonly discussed when two or more artists get together.
- Let’s go back to when it was all joy. Go back to when picking up a brush, or a camera, or whatever, was new, exciting, interesting – when what was being done was being done not for the sake of art and all that surrounds whatever that notion entails, but for the sake of doing that thing – that thing that was exciting. When seeing something form and/or appear was the main/important thing; before it needed to be shared or, particularly, justified.
- The next step, of course, is the process of becoming professional, of measuring against one’s peers and the rest of the nutso art community. That aspect of competition is where work, and an artist, becomes done or undone.
- It is at this point that one is tempted to do a tree, kind of like an organizational chart (By the way, whatever happened to the rule about a or an before vowels and consonants?), except that this chart, or in this case “shedding” tree, would display the various possible paths that artists might take once the idea of professionalism entered their otherwise unprovoked minds. Please, it is just too painful to go there.
- So, for a moment, let’s think of the avant garde as originating, not from revolution, but from innocence – from the love of doing, from the uninfluenced time; that true change originates from the idea rather than from calculation, or intuition, or even intention.
- I hear that undercurrent of sniggering commentary and chuckle. So this is too polka dot for you, is it? Well, consider exactly what your so called public and populist revolutionaries have done for you lately. Have they at all stemmed the tide of rampant global corporate expansion, dictatorial power, and commercial influence? Do you not feel, inexplicably, that start ups or market manipulation are now the latest current path to personal liberation and freedom?
- This is not an indictment, it is analysis (OK, analysis light).
- Which brings me back to the avant garde, the idea of the avant garde, and, more important, the necessity of and for an avant garde. Really, what do we want or expect from one?
- And when I say we; I mean I!
- In his review of Buchloh’s “Formalism and Historicity,” in March 2016 Artforum, a publication whose subscription I am seriously considering allowing to expire, Graham Bader, via Buchloh, discusses today’s myth as depoliticized speech, and then cites Duchamp and Broodthaers as having pursued a sort of “artificial myth;” “the practice of counterrobbery that seeks not to step outside myth’s operation (for any attempted removal duly becomes its prey in turn, as just so much fodder for an ever-hungrier culture industry) but instead accepts and adopts as its essential subject the necessarily mythical status of art itself.”
- Graham Bader: “The challenge, rather, is to seize hold of the changing economy of myth itself. . . . . The desire for mythical thinking, we’re reminded daily, is infinitely more dangerous than the individual fictions myth provides.”
- Which is why the question about the avant garde is relevant now; because the question, not the avant garde itself, must be used to test ourselves and our beliefs against the status quo: organized capitalism, start-up economy, commercialism and –izaton. Are these nearly overwhelming value structures to be fully, and maybe blindly, accepted? Or is there another agency that . . .
- Fame, fortune, financial independence. “The imaginative proximity of social revolution.” – George Yridice
- The wobble point was the determination that corporations are persons: as in, when do corporations get to vote?
- Personally I have always, and continually more so, felt overwhelmed by living immersed in commercial messaging. And I have wondered just how much that captivation influences my larger societal societal choices.
- But there I go again, so easily sliding this discussion into the realm of socio-politics, when I have been struggling, with prolonged hope, to trip upon the protruding stone of some obscure, but lustrous, alternate path.