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#1 What is to be done?

Dmitry Vilensky // What is to be done? (Editorial)

“…a person should always endeavor to be as radical as reality itself.”

V.I.Lenin in conversation with the Dadaist Marq in Zurich
(Dada and Poets, R. Motherwell)

The ability to simply think up the question, “What to do?” came about not long ago, when it suddenly became clear that the time had come for serious and responsible expression: all playful-ironical modes of representation seemed openly obscene. It’s still early to talk about the complete ideological overcoing over the postmodern, but we can already certify that the postmodern has become impossible on a purely aesthetic level.In this situation, it is again necessary to define the avant-garde position in art.Art gains its historical perspective only in coordination with the appearance of a global political avant-garde and the relevant theory that describes it.In recent years, radical protest movements have revealed fundamentally new positions.For the new artistic avant-garde, these movements provide political reference points.Such was the atmosphere at the time of the Revolution, and now, again, the inescapable sensation of change—social, visual and political—is in the air.

“…a person should always endeavor to be as radical as reality itself.”

V.I.Lenin in conversation with the Dadaist Marq in Zurich
(Dada and Poets, R. Motherwell)

 

The ability to simply think up the question, “What to do?” came about not long ago, when it suddenly became clear that the time had come for serious and responsible expression: all playful-ironical modes of representation seemed openly obscene. It’s still early to talk about the complete ideological overcoing over the postmodern, but we can already certify that the postmodern has become impossible on a purely aesthetic level.In this situation, it is again necessary to define the avant-garde position in art.Art gains its historical perspective only in coordination with the appearance of a global political avant-garde and the relevant theory that describes it.In recent years, radical protest movements have revealed fundamentally new positions.For the new artistic avant-garde, these movements provide political reference points.Such was the atmosphere at the time of the Revolution, and now, again, the inescapable sensation of change—social, visual and political—is in the air.

This sensation turns out to be in accordance with the sixties, when it was clear to the observer that “the twenty year-old radical was quite aware that the world could be whatever he made of it.” Indeed, we may find assurance in the fact that coming changes completely depend on our position, on our projections into the future; an intensification of the process of “net-working”, an effort “to get together”, “to be concerned and socially engaged”, to maintain a “feeling of community” and a conviction that “another view is possible” (as expressed with these English-language abstractions) have become the urgent necessities of artistic life in Russia. Most importantly we have a sense that we will no longer be held hostage to someone else’s incomprehensible game.We are capable of forming our own reality, in which life will be creative and the world will be fair.

So it’s time to stop thinking about how to best, most effectively, sell ourselves; we must simply learn to give.Then every gesture, even the most insignificant, can achieve the broadest societal consequence.Why, the thing most dangerous to the system is the stance of people who deny the consumerist concept of pleasure and avoid the cynical goods-product relationship that so saturates our society: the stance of people who are learning once again to think globally.The time of social-service cynicism has passed, and we no longer have a right to be pessimistic or passive.

If we can understand, and likewise strengthen art as a zone of real creative autonomy, we will achieve the capability to form and disseminate alternative models of aesthetic and social transformations.Then with fresh inspiration, we will be able to discuss both the nuances of this aesthetic and the problems in creation of original, persuasive work.

Thus, the position of the artist will finally become as radical as this newly engendered reality.

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