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    Eseuri: Stefan Arteni. The E-C European Model. 4.The Avantgarde and Ma
    Scris la Monday, April 06 @ 15:52:08 CEST de catre asymetria
    Memoria The sociological ground of the term ‘avantgarde’ is military and political, as Armin Koehler has pointed out. It has nothing to do with art praxis. It is a matter of context-shift, or, as Boris Groys says, of an exchange between the spheres of the valued and the valueless, a kind of Nietzschean de- or re-valuation of values. It operates under the spell of a Marxist obsession.
    Stefan Arteni


    The East-Central European Cultural Model. 4.The Avantgarde and Marxism.
    Motto.
    Art is going to sleep for a new world to be born. (Tristan Tzara)

    “Chronologically and axiologically, Europe is firstly...the Europe of ascetic-noble personalism. The left is too young to claim any great achievement. It has not yet built anything lasting, it opposes the Gulag to the cathedrals, and party activists to monarchs”, writes Mircea Platon. Platon speaks, of course, about the Europe of nations, a Europe that, kidnapped, displaced, and brainwashed, nevertheless insists on defending its identity.

    Milan Kundera has defined national identity in this way: "The identity of a people and of a civilisation is reflected in what has been created by the mind - in what is known as 'culture.' If this identity is threatened with extinction, cultural life grows correspondingly more intense, more important, until cultural life itself becomes the living value around which all people rally." Once our historical past and our culture, that which gives our present actions and reality meaning (by being a part of the transcendent/eternal) has been deconstructed -- seen to be totally false and oppressive -- there is nothing left to hold society together. “Breaking the continuity with the past, wanting to begin again, is a lowering of man and a plagiarism of the orangutan,” writes Jose Ortega y Gasset.

    The sociological ground of the term ‘avantgarde’ is military and political, as Armin Koehler has pointed out. It has nothing to do with art praxis. It is a matter of context-shift, or, as Boris Groys says, of an exchange between the spheres of the valued and the valueless, a kind of Nietzschean de- or re-valuation of values. It operates under the spell of a Marxist obsession. Josef Maria Bochenski characterized Marxism as a dogmatic system that is only postulated and believed, an ‘atheistic catechism’. The marxist ‘cultural revolution’ was not only directed at psychological and physical annihilation and suppression, but comprised the element of memoricide. Memoricide is the destruction of collective consciousness and memory. The modern utopian and dystopian relationship, the attempt at memoricide or erasure, is followed, according to Stjepan G. Mestrovic, by the confluence of ‘postmodernism’ and postcommunism. The recent revisionist reconsidering of Socialist Realism and of the art of the Zhdanov era may be evaluated in the context of post-orthodox marxian tendencies and the attempts to rescue a marxist view of history. Mikhail Epstein recalls Jean Baudrillard’s concept of ‘simulation’ as one of the definitions of postmodernism: “Models of reality replace reality itself”. Hence Epstein concludes that Socialist Realism, the simulative reality of a culture, was truly postmodernist ‘avant la lettre’. Tuomas Nevanlinna remarks that “Socialist Realism aimed to realize the avantgarde utopia by using the methods of traditional art”. Rene Girard’s mimetic desire theory, when applied to Socialist Realism’s appropriation of nineteenth century official Academic styles, may suggest a relation between noticing one’s own insufficiency and an economy of revenge.

    What is the historical avant-garde? Let us return to a workable definition and to its original use within the Marxist school of thought. Marek Kwiek points out that the cliché of the ‘intellectual’ as legislator and interpreter or of the ‘philosopher-prophet’, the pathos of a providential history of redemption, have been displaced towards the art system. The fallaciousness of this idea is less surprising than its prevalence. The art object itself plays only an incidental role. Instead of sign processes as memory processes, there is a fallacious abstraction conducive to aesthetic negativity that creates a self-perpetuating conflict. Dada hoped to destroy traditional values in culture, aesthetics, and art. In his ‘Lenine dada’, éditions Le Dilettante, 2007, Dominique Noguez asks the question: could Lenin have been Dada incarnate? Tzara's manuscript "ARC" appears covered with the handwriting of Lenin. Soviet Utopia was born in the smoke rising from the funeral pyre of a Russian Empire which had been systematically deconstructed by Lenin and his confrères and followers. In other words, the century of avantgardes aimed at turning aesthetics into surrogate of politics, thus paving the way for the genocidal communist ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ fuelled by an absolute hatred of anything traditional. “From the beginning, the aim of radical artistic avantgardes has consisted in nothing else but the elevation of the artwork to a life-style – and possibly the lifestyle of the entire society…From the start, this project is totalising or, if one wishes to say so, totalitary…Modern totalitarianism is only the radical materialization of this aim,” writes Boris Groys.

    Gene Ray [ www.linksnet.de ] proposes a similar description: “Drawing on now-classic Frankfurt School critiques of artistic autonomy, I will sketch the outlines of the capitalist art system, including its ideology of the artist and its institutions and social functions. This will make it possible to recognize three possible models for critical and radical cultural practice: ‘critically affirmative art,’ avant-garde practices, and ‘nomadic’ practices…groups and networks of Futurists, Dada, Russian Cubo-Futurists, Constructivists, Suprematists, and Surrealists. With the exception of the Italian Futurists, who notoriously became involved with fascist politics, the other groupings of the historical avant-gardes were made up of radical leftists who, anarchist or marxist in orientation, can credibly be described as ‘anti-capitalist.’”.

    [A more careful and accurate reconstruction of the Futurist movements and of their adherence to the logicality of two ideologies is needed. Margherita Sarfatti, "la donna del Duce" (Mussolini’s mistress), arts redactor for ‘Popolo d'Italia’, the Duce’s confidante and biographer, played an important role in the invention of fascism, and later created the Novecento movement, a movement which adopted an entirely original interpretation of the grand Italian pictorial tradition (Mario Sironi’s Manifesto of Mural Painting, 1933, prepared the terrain for a revival of mural decoration), advocated technical accomplishment and promoted a boldly modernist design and architecture, revealing thus the relationship between Fascism and modernism. (Saviona Mane, The Jewish Mother of Fascism, August 7, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/735492.html ) Many futurists went on to become the leading artists of Novecento. The Strapaese group founded by Giorgio Morandi and joined by Soffici and Carra, also advocated a return to tradition.

    On the other hand, Russian futurists created a movement called com-futurism (communist-futurism). Most of them, including Maiakovsky, the bard of the new Soviet regime who wrote the famous verse: "Lenin lives, lived and will live", will join Lenin’s bolsheviks and the ideology of proletarian internationalism.

    Beginning in Cracow in 1917, Polish Formists aimed to create a national version of modernism. Formists frequently painted religious themes. Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz wrote: "We live in a frightful epoch...[a] horrible, painful, insane monstrosity that is passed off as being the evolution of social progress." A similar movement existed in Croatia. Both movements drew on all formal systems and experiments, including folk art, cubism and futurism, and called for a spiritual rejuvenation of Europe (Timothy O. Benson, editor, Central European Avant-Gardes: Exchange and Transformation, 1910-1930, MIT Press, 2002). East-Central European nations were trying to reaffirm their identity and their national traditions by contesting a single, monolithic modernism. The internationalist avantgarde would have rejected these ideas as reactionary.]
    In his Theory of the Avantgarde (1974), Peter Buerger, a disciple of the marxist Frankfurt School, indicates that, when defining an avantgarde, “the question is of revolutionizing life, not of creating forms that are destined to become the object of aesthetic contemplation”. Peter Buerger describes the art of the avantgarde, the categories of non-art, anti-art, and a-art, as the destruction of art’s tradition. He writes: “The avantgardistes proposed the sublation or artublation in the Hegelian sense of the term: art was not to be simply destroyed, but transferred to the praxis of life where it would be preserved, albeit in a changed form.. it is... the attempt to organize a new life praxis from a basis in art...Only an art the contents of whose individual works is wholly distinct from the (bad) praxis of the existing society can be the center that can be the starting point for the organization of a new life praxis”.

    The affiliation with communism of many dadaists and surrealists is well known, Dan C.Mihailescu calls them “comintern’s toys”. We will mention only a few names: Victor Brauner (agent of the comintern), Jules Perahim (zhdanovist satrap), Gherasim Luca (Gilles Deleuze’s favourite; in 1967 Gherasim Luca wrote on the mural Cuba Collectiva dedicated to Fidel Castro: «La poésie sans langue, la révolution sans personne, l’amour sans fin.»). Many prophets of utopia and internationalist ‘Tendenzkunst’ (‘art engagé’) willingly implemented the ‘proletcult’ doctrine and the bolshevik policy of desecration and destruction – they were seeing the promised land, they were proclaiming the primordiality of politically correct content and, consequently, novelty was guaranteed by the ‘new’ content.
    A recent exhibition dedicated to Italian art of the 20th century closed with the section ‘Tabula Rasa’ devoted to three artists of the post-war period who intended to reactivate the spirit of the avantgarde: Fontana, Burri, and Manzoni. ‘Tabula Rasa’ signifies an attempt at creation ‘ex nihilo’. It is a messianism without the Messiah whose outcome has been described by Mircea Platon: “the hideousness of a wasteland”. (The Novecento. Abstraction. Italian art of the 20th century, 5 February 2005 - 24 April 2005, Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, http://english.mart.trento.it/context_mostre_mondo.jsp?ID_LINK=346&area=62&page=2 )

    Western-style stylization of the avantgarde as paradigm has turned into a sort of retroutopianism. The use of the term as a marketing tool has become widespread. Methodologically, we should acknowledge the importance of ideology, distinguishing the avantgarde from movements seeking only innovative formalization systems – strictly speaking, neither Brancusi, nor Pallady may be described as belonging to the avantgarde. The merciless demythization of the past is part and parcel of the new and decidedly trendy academic ‘discourse’ but no demythization of marxism is taking place. There is need for a demythization of the avantgarde.

    Stefan Arteni
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