Saturday, July 11, 2009

"The project: relax the avant garde"

Tan Lin has a really cool response to Thomas Fink's review of Heath: Plagiarism/Outsource
in the latest (yet to go live/to print) Otoliths. I'm a big fan of Tan's work, and have written on Blipsoak01 (one of the best books I bought last year) and Otoliths is a great mag. I'm in this issue too. Mark young edits it, and blogs here.

In his response Tan states that "the avant garde feels tired in its gestures, feels like it has to plagiarize to "make a statement." Or feels like it has to resort to appropriation as something incendiary, as something neo-avant garde and from an earlier era. But appropriation is no longer avant garde. It’s standard practice in and out of the classroom. Is appropriation in "experimental literature" still "experimental"? I don’t think so".

I think this applies to recent comments I have made elsewhere about the Kenny Goldsmith school of Conceptual Writing which, as Johannes Göransson has said, seems manufactured for Academic consumption and criticism. Compared with his earlier numbered works (which I love) the "appropriative" texts such as Sports etc seem quiet, vacuous, entropic ... And his attitude seems to signal that there is a kind of cultural "slumming it" going on, that the works are "oh-so-clever" and still retain their all important and accademicaly sactioned status as high-art objects. Perhaps the democratic impulse of something like No. 111 was unintentional (and, if Sucking on Words (video/PDF script) is anything to go by, my reading is anything but a reflection of intentionality).

For real social noise rather than an art gallery simulation I might have to go back to Bruce Andrews.

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