Thursday, 24 July 2014
Artists and Avants
In doing so, they set up these tropes that have become signifiers of being 'avant-garde.' In imitating these tropes, artists imagine they are continuing a tradition, and assigning themselves the label 'experimental' when they are really just copying.
I am not sure if there ought to be a 'tradition' for avant-garde work at all. I mean, it is supposed to be a radical shift, isn't it?
Back in the day, I remember a biography of William Burroughs which spoke of his time 'experimenting with alcohol.' They weren't talking about the author suddenly exploring chemistry as a career change, but that he was getting pissed up all the time. After the first hangover, no-one 'experiments' with alcohol - they know exactly what it is going to do.
It's the same with performance: the possible impacts of nudity have been clarified - and it might have once been shocking, or sexy, or a short-cut to presenting emotional honesty. It is fine to get nekkid on stage - but it isn't avant-garde.