An Avant-Garde with Its Back to the Future

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If the notion of the avant-garde seems slightly outdated in the context of contemporary art, it appears downright unthinkable in the context of politics, not least as a model for a political community. The idea of a small cadre of people determined to advance history and lead the masses to some imagined utopia comes off as completely anachronistic today. Already in the mid-1970s it was clear that the dream of the modern revolutionary break with capitalist society was not going to materialise, and that neoliberal globalisation was using the cultural revolution of the late 1960s to introduce a new phase of capitalist accumulation. It is difficult to find more materialist accounts of the trajectory of the avant-garde. But one such analysis was made by the Italian workerist, architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri who, in Progetto e utopia from 1973, argued that the avant-garde had been unable to transcend the structures that determined it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrisis and Communitas : Performative Concepts of Commonality in Arts and Politics
EditorsDoroto Sajewska, Malgorzata Sugiera
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781032138053
ISBN (Electronic)9781003231097
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

OA Funder: Swiss National Science Foundation

ID: 345317655