File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1998/avant-garde.9807, message 4

Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 15:08:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: the H&H manifesto

On Wed, 1 Jul 1998, malgosia askanas wrote:
> OK, but I want to make a comment that is not closely dependent on the historical
> specifics.  In your explanation above, you are using "artistic" and "political"
> as if they had fixed meanings.  What is to you a "political" statement, and why
> is the H&H manifesto _not_ a political statement? 

Its not so much a matter of what these words mean to me, but what they refer 
to in reality, if I can put it that way.

An artistic statement is something that has meaning in the artistic 
world. This world has real social and historical existence. It defines a 
whole mode of living and working. Not just anybody can say or do anything 
and call it art. An act will be recognized as artistic only if it obeys 
conditions that are recognized by the actually existing (and 
historically changing) community of artists, critics, curators and so on.

The same is true of politics. There is a world of politics that consists 
of a set of existing agents (e.g., parties) who define what that world is 
and what legitimate (or as I was saying "serious") political action is. 
For example, the dichotomy between left and right is a current artifact 
of this social world and any action will necessarily be aligned by it, or 
perhaps seen as an attempt to overthrow it (so far such attempts to 
develop a "third position" have been unsuccessful).

The world of politics and the world of art are separate from one another. 
The attempt to make an artistic statement within the political world will 
simply not be heard or will be seen as absurd or will be reinterpreted 
and used for poltical ends.

I hope this is more or less clear. With this approach I am following (or
trying to follow) my "intellectual hero" the French sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu. His book the Rules of Art is very intersting, though a difficult
read for the nonspecialist. 

 Also, I use the term "anti-art"
> _always_ in the sense of an artistic position -- so in my usage, it always refers 
> to attempts to demolish, from inside art, the conceptual framework that governs 
> the established social understanding of the term "art". 

	Perhaps it is better to say that its paradoxical. But driven to
its ultimate conclusion the effort to destroy art from inside art becomes
self-annhilating doesn't it?
	Maybe it boils down to what "destroying art" means. The 
avant-garde performs a progressive function when it seeks to demystify 
art by destroying what commonly stands for art. For example, attacking 
the official "cult of art" that removes art from life and places it on a 
pedestal in the musuem, when its real and true message is that it (art) 
is a way of living and experiencing the world.
	In this connection, I would say that the Dadaists made really 
great art! I love the sound poetry etc. It's certainly changed my life!

	George Free		Toronto, Canada

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