File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1998/avant-garde.9805, message 42

Subject: Re: Killing off the author
Date: Sun, 31 May 1998 17:14:54 -0700

Malgosia wrote:

>one cannot analyze anti-art by situating it within a "given what art is". 

> It is a bit like analyzing a communist movement by saying "given that 
> relations of production are what they are, how could these ideas be
> to work"?

Well--perhaps this sort of foolish taking account of the possible is what
has been missing on the left during this century? And perhaps also in the
avant garde? Looking at the quite amusing post Saul forwarded from Mob
Rule, a quote (something like, "Face it, it's selling paintings that keeps
this whole thing going"--sorry, this is not exact) stood out. And the
reactions to Bill Viola's work! I'm neither a rabid fan nor a Viola-hater,
but the reactions of the gallerists were revealing of a whole set of
problems they have with V's work that indicate a whole set of problems they
have with the larger culture--in other words, they seem to prefer an
utterly marginalized cultural presence. I guess what I'm getting at here is
that "the ideal" and "changing the artworld" have indeed been driving the
avant garde, but the artworld has changed little, it's only become a sort
of little living museum. I submit that taking account of how art is used,
experienced, felt, thought, by the culture and seeking to broaden, deepen,
sharpen those uses etc. has been what the avant garde has not done. For a
long time it's been mainly a reactionary practice, seeking to erase the
foregoing to write anew, and no, that's not how change occurs. So call me a
gradualist, a running dog, a Girondiste. I do think that the ideal is the
source of the banal, because the ideal is of utterly human manufacture. The
possible is the only source of the new, and the existing situation is the
only ground for change. 

Ann K.

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