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05 NOVEMBER 2017

Dada was an effort to reinvigorate art through critical negation

"we should think of Dada in terms of the precise and deliberate negation of art. Dada sought to destroy art. Why? It is my contention that for Dada, art was itself negative: Dada conceived of art as absence, exclusion, and division. This is not in the sense that art was somehow in a state of decay or socially compromised. Rather, for Dada, art was its processes of negation, processes which were not contingent but constitutive and essential to art"

(Mark Hutchinson, 2015)

Hutchinson, M. (2015). "Dada Contra Art History." Dada/Surrealism 20(1).

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2015activist practices • against art • anti-disciplinary activities • art as activism • art historyartistic activismavant-garde art • biding legacy • call to arms • conventional cultural terms • critical negation • Dada • Dada Manifesto • destruction of art • destruction of the old • disciplinary promiscuity • discursive struggleshegemonyinstitutionalised artinterdisciplinaritylegacy • Mark Hutchinson • modernism • negation • negativity • nihilism • ossification • painting salons • political art • positive creativity • raucous skepticism • rebellious art • Salon des Refuses • skepticism • stagnation • subversion • sweep clean • University of Iowa

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 AUGUST 2017

On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972

"The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries, the exclusive membership of which was made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, active from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism. Overall, situationist theory represented an attempt to synthesize this diverse field of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of mid-20th century advanced capitalism. The situationists recognized that capitalism had changed since Marx's formative writings, but maintained that his analysis of the capitalist mode of production remained fundamentally correct; they rearticulated and expanded upon several classical Marxist concepts, such as his theory of alienation. In their expanded interpretation of Marxist theory, the situationists asserted that the misery of social alienation and commodity fetishism were no longer limited to the fundamental components of capitalist society, but had now in advanced capitalism spread themselves to every aspect of life and culture. They resolutely rejected the idea that advanced capitalism's apparent successes—such as technological advancement, increased income, and increased leisure—could ever outweigh the social dysfunction and degradation of everyday life that it simultaneously inflicted.

Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects. The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society. Another important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

When the Situationist International was first formed, it had a predominantly artistic focus; emphasis was placed on concepts like unitary urbanism and psychogeography. Gradually, however, that focus shifted more towards revolutionary and political theory. The Situationist International reached the apex of its creative output and influence in 1967 and 1968, with the former marking the publication of the two most significant texts of the situationist movement, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem. The expressed writing and political theory of the two aforementioned texts, along with other situationist publications, proved greatly influential in shaping the ideas behind the May 1968 insurrections in France; quotes, phrases, and slogans from situationist texts and publications were ubiquitous on posters and graffiti throughout France during the uprisings."

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195719721989 • advanced capitalism • anti-authoritarianart movement • authentic desires • avant-garde art • Branka Bogdanov • capitalist societycommodity fetishism • commodity spectacle • consumer societyconsumerism • consumption of commodities • Dadadegradationdetournement • directly lived experiences • documentary filmearly 20th centuryeveryday life • exchange of commodities • expression and mediation of social relations through objects • feeling of adventure • feeling of life • first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires • graffiti • Greil Marcus • Guy Debord • individual expression by proxy • Jamie Reid • liberation of everyday life • Malcolm Mac Laren • Marxism • Marxist concepts • Marxist theory • May 1968 • means of production • mid-20th century advanced capitalism • mode of production • moments of life • political theorists • political theorypsychogeography • Raoul Vaneigem • reawakening • revolutionary theory • second-hand alienation • Situationist International • situationist movement • situationist theory • situations • slogan • social alienation • social dysfunction • social relations • social revolutionaries • Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)spectaclesurrealism • The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) • theory of alienation • Thomas Levine • UbuWeb • unified critique • unitary urbanism • video documentary

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 OCTOBER 2016

Avant-garde: exploration and radical creativity that clashes with convention OR simply a carnival of aestheticism?

"Turning to the term 'avant-garde' itself, it seems to have become a commonplace in our ways of thinking about art. Since the nineteenth century, its use has become widespread, designating any artistic movement that can be described as innovative. The term's fate is grounded in the relevance of its military metaphorics, which liken artistic invention to the actions of a small band of forces that sets off in advance of an army in order to clear its path. We thus strike upon several basic characteristics of the avant-garde: first, the notion that the avant-garde restores the collective dimension of explorative creativity. But the term also evokes the conditions of conflict that arise between this creativity and the prevailing society; at the same time, we must keep in mind that 'avant-garde' designates artistic activity as the means for opening up new territory.

The term's current problems arise from its social and economic valorization, which has become so important today that all artists want to be considered avant-garde—even though they generally consider the essential character of avant-gardism to involve little more than a spectacular revolution in form. The notion of avant-gardism subsequently takes on a different meaning than it had originally: it has come to signify a mindset of formal innovation, rather than a dedication to exploration and radical creativity that clashes with convention. Thus the positions of an entire range of so-called avant-gardes can be accommodated within an economic consensus that values formal innovation for reasons of competitiveness and profitability. At the same time, competitive rivalry leads to the disappearance of the collective dimension of innovative creativity which had been, no doubt, a fundamental characteristic of the avant-garde. We must therefore accept the idea that the very evolution of the avant-garde, which compels it to follow the trends of the market place, also brings about its death—a death to which the contemporary art market and institutional consensus alike seem fully determined have us bear witness by crowning its most ridiculous propositions with museum exhibitions. These preliminary remarks highlight the instability of terms such as 'avant-garde,' as far as artistic experience goes. For it is by no means clear that the term means the same thing for avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century as it does for the avant-garde that followed."

(Philippe Sers and Jonathan P. Eburne, 2010, p.850)

The Radical Avant-Garde and the Contemporary Avant-Garde; Author(s): Philippe Sers and Jonathan P. Eburne; Source: New Literary History, Vol. 41, No. 4, What Is an Avant-Garde? (AUTUMN 2010), pp. 847-854. Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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art as innovation • artistic activity • artistic experience • artistic intelligibility • artistic inventionartistic movementavant-gardeavant-garde art • avant-gardism • carnival of aestheticism • clashes with convention • collective dimension • competitive rivalry • competitiveness • conceptual territory • conflictcontemporary art • contemporary art market • economic valorization • exploration and radical creativity • explorative creativity • formal innovation • innovative • innovative creativity • institutional consensus • interdiction • Jonathan Eburne • military metaphor • new territory • opening up new territory • Philippe Sers • profitability • radical avant-garde • rupture • social valorization • spectacular revolution in form • strategic interdiction • tactical interdiction • territory grab • valorization

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 DECEMBER 2015

Adam Curtis: our defeatist response to contradictory narratives

"So much of the news this year [2014] has been hopeless, depressing and above all confusing. To which the only response is 'Oh Dear' But what this film is going to suggest is that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control and to understand how this is happening you have to look to Russia and to a man called Vladislav Surkov who is a hero of our time. Surkov is one of President Putin's advisors and has helped him maintain his power for fifteen years, but he has done it in a very new way. He came originally from the avant-garde art world and those who have studied his career say that what Surkov has done is import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics."

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2014Adam CurtisAfghanistanapathyausterity measuresavant-garde art • Bashar al-Assad • bewildering • British troops • Chancellor of the Exchequer • Charlie Brooker • conceptual artconfusion tacticsconspiracy theoriesconstant changecontradictory narratives • contradictory vaudeville • controlcrimedaesh • defeatism • defeatist response • destabilised perceptiondisc jockey • ebola • economy • evil enemy • financial crimes • George Osbornehuman agencyhyperrealityincoherencemedia machine • non-linear war • non-linear world • perceptions of realitypolitical control • political strategy • post-traditional societypublic thought • quantitative easing • Russia • Russian politics • ruthless elite • shapeshiftingsimulacrasmokescreen • strategy of power • Syria • those in power • Ukraineuncertainty • undermine perceptions • Vladimir PutinVladislav Surkovwhat is really happening

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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