Friday, December 03, 2010

In the end

In the end, for all its fury (and Symbolists and Anarchists worked side-by-side in the 1890s) revolutionary art was caught in contradictions. It could not or would not break free of the forms of bourgeois culture as a whole. Its content and method could become transformations of the world but, while art remained imprisoned within the social spectacle, its transformations remained imaginary. Rather than enter into direct social conflict with the reality it criticized, it transferred the whole problem into an abstract and inoffensive sphere where it functioned objectively as a force consolidating all it wanted to destroy. Revolt against reality became the evasion of reality. Marx's original critique of the genesis of religious myth and ideology applies word-for-word to the rebellion of bourgeois art: it too "is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. It is the sigh of the oppresses creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people" [Marx, Contribution to the critique of Hegel's "Philosophy of Right"].
- The Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of Revolution, written by Tim Clark, Christopher Gray, Charles Radcliffe and Donald Nicholson-Smith.
Note: mistakenly described as a "manifesto" by Chronos Publications, which published it as a pamphlet in October 1994, this text was never published by either the English section of the Situationist International nor by the SI as a whole. It appears to have circulated as a "confidential" manuscript.

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