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Surrealism, Dada, and the refusal of work: Autonomy, activism, and social participation in the radical avant-garde

Grindon, G (2011) 'Surrealism, Dada, and the refusal of work: Autonomy, activism, and social participation in the radical avant-garde.' Oxford Art Journal, 34 (1). ISSN 0142-6540

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This article aims to explore the notion of activist-art, identifying it as a distinct tendency in Modern art through a re-examination of historical and theoretical approaches to the radical avant-garde, drawing on autonomist Marxist and materialist post-structural perspectives. First, through a critique of Peter Bürger's Theory of the Avant-Garde, I attempt to place the use of the idea of 'autonomy' by the avant-garde in its critical historical context not only in the negative sense of separation, but in the positive sense of freedom from restraint. I argue that for the avant-garde this took the particular form of a thematic engagement with the refusal of work. Secondly, I examine one particular form of this refusal: the engagement with social movements amongst Dadaists in Berlin. I set out a theoretical frame of 'affective composition', in order to place avant-garde artistic production in relation to the art of social movements, whose production operates outside the institutions of art. I argue that not only is the avant-garde at crucial points influenced by the art of social movements, but that the Dadaists in Berlin attempt to imagine new forms of 'activist-art' which synthesise avant-garde and social movement performance and object-art in disobedient performances and performative objects. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2014 16:15
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 14:15

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