From Avant-Garde to Para-Garde: The Truth About Marika

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It seems today that the avant-garde has become domesticated and that its radical tendencies have been tamed. There is apparently no rival for the avant-garde paradigm—no way to reformulate radical art so that it may depart from the premises from which it emerged in the early twentieth century. How then can the avant-garde, as a social, political, and theoretical position and practice, revitalize itself in contemporary culture? I argue that in the field of experimental art, we are gradually shifting from the legacy of the avant-garde to a mind-set called para-garde. My theoretical discussion of both the historical avant-garde's legacy and the para-garde is tied to an experimental Swedish project entitled Sanningen om Marika (The Truth about Marika; 2007) which provides an example of the emerging para-garde ethos. Marika constructs a space in the interstices between the vanguard and popular culture that eludes classic avant-garde definitions and theories.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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