…why care about avant-garde? I found John Ashbery and unearthed more than a poem but a type of meditation and mental space in words. History is important, let’s start there:
Following the revolutionary art of Impressionism, the art world opened up and splintered. Motivated by a need for freedom, originality and experimentation, the new century of the 1900s ushered in a multitude of
avant-garde styles. This wave was ignited into something more by the wars; artists rebelled further, soon followed by writers and musicians demanding distance from a logic that resulted in human sacrifice from propaganda and greed. Supported by the industrial revolution, new transport modes, women’s rights, human rights and now IT.
Sur-real was a movement from ego brain to intuition and subconscious resulting in an avant-garde questioning, “What actually is realer than real?”
2021 avant-garde invites a move from lockdown, toxic positivity, anti-science fans, body shaming, climate disaster, racism, cancel culture, bullying, misogyny, overt capitalism, and mental health burn out to a
society where art is appreciated for its capacity to expand human consciousness and rally humanity to question everything and grow-together.
It’s about creating a shared world through the work of the creator with interpretation of the work left to the one who consumes it.
As Nabokov once opined, critics have a terrible habit of asking “What is the author trying to say?” Often the integration of form is the basis in literary criticism; techniques can be more valuable than content. The meaning of writing / art can also be the meaning of life. What do you think about that?
Avant-garde does it’s best to de-canonise rhyme, sentimental string pulling, technique of the cannon, punctuation, formatting and more in order to invite you into a new, fresh, tilted space by mixing the real with the unreal and leaving us questioning, “If I know this thing to be real…then could this other unreal thing also be true? And, if that’s the case then what else is real or unreal?”
To be a part of this movement, from an Irish and female perspective, is exciting and unexpected, my life’s special interest is in the poetics of potential and post traumatic growth, maybe this pandemic is the trauma that’ll result in an universal questioning and growth.
Not that I can find them now, but there’s been studies on trauma and the healing capacity of avant-garde writing but I know from personal experience of neonatal loss that the avant-garde…that art can transmute grief.