Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Garde

Over in the comments section of MattJ's "theatre conversation and political frustration" blog (see sidebar), there is an absolutely brilliant discussion between MattJ, George, and Freeman of postmodernism as a term. In George's contribution, he asks in reference to people like Richard Foreman and Liz LeCompte, "Where's the garde they're supposed to be avant?" That incisive question really snapped my head back. Both MattF and George are threatening to write about this topic, and I really look forward to reading what they have to say. All I have to contribute at this point is to quote the first stanza of WB Yeats' The Second Coming, which to me seems prescient about the current situation in the arts:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Freeman said...

While I will take a second and look a "Post-Modern" and "Avant-Garde" on my site in a few days, I'll say here that I think both terms are effectively inert these days.

Foreman can't be considered new and experimental. The man has been doing his thing for 250 years. If we haven't moved past him yet, for the love of God, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Maybe we should just be ashamed of ourselves.

On the other hand, in science you don't call every single experiment in a success. In art, we call the very act of experimentation a success. It seems that we're missing a step.

MattJ said...

it's funny how that is, with Foreman. Because in a way we still do like to call him avant-garde, and for some reason I am not completely convinced that he isn't. Not only because his aesthetic has changed over the years, but also because the "other" of the avant-garde situation (AKA, mainstream?) doesn't seem to be that different. I mean, it's not as if Foreman has become the mainstream so he can't be avant-garde anymore, we'd all agree he's far from that, and yes he's not new, but he is experimental, right?... it's a difficult problem (and an interesting one!)

And you've got a great point about the relationship between experiment and success, and its relation to theatre, maybe one worth examining further...