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The Avant-garde is Undesirable

Helmut Sturm, Heimrad Prem, Lothar Fischer, Dieter Kunzelmann, Hans-Peter Zimmer, Staffan Larsson, Asger Jorn, Jørgen Nash, Katja Lindell & Maurice Wyckaert

January 1961

Translator unknown

1. The avant-garde of today that does not reiterate accepted mystifications is nevertheless socially repressed. The movement society desires is the one that it can buy up — it is the pseudo-avant-garde.

2. To those who create new values, the life of today appears to be an illusion, a fragment. If the avant-garde puts into question the meaning of life and wishes to put to practical use its conclusions, it finds itself cut-off from all possibilities and sealed-off from society.

3. The aesthetic debris of the avant-garde (pictures, film, poetry, etc.) have become both desirable and ineffectual. What is undesirable is the complete reorganization of the conditions of life such that the basis of society is altered.

4. Once the products of the avant-garde have been neutralized aesthetically and brought upon the market, its issues — directed as always at realization through all of life — must be split up, talked to death and side-tracked. We protest in the name of the avant-garde past and present, and in the names of all the isolated and dissatisfied artists, against this cultural necrophilia; we call on all creative powers to boycott such discussions.

5. Modern culture has no substance, possesses no strength capable of mounting a real resistance to the resolutions of the avant-garde.

6. We, the creators of new values, are no longer shouted down by the protectors of culture, but are assigned designations in specialised fields, and our demands are thus made to appear ridiculous.

7. In this society, artists are expected to take over the role of the Court Fools of the past, expected to take payment for providing society with the delusion that there is a special kind of cultural freedom.

8. Social snobbery would prescribe for the avant-garde a particular place, which it can't leave without giving up its respectability.

9. The very life of the artist is the leavening agent in the rising of a new society from our withering European culture. This is not a process that should be stopped; it should be sped up!

10. European culture is a sick, pregnant, old hag who is going to die. Should we try to save the mother or the child? Some would try to rescue the mother, even if it meant killing the child. The avant-garde has decided: the mother must die so that the child may live!

11. Yesterday's avant-garde is old hat. The problem with the artistic, political left today is one of truth: "A Truth only lives to be ten years old" (Ibsen).

12. Artists and intellectuals! Support the Situationist movement, for it chases after no Utopias. It is the only movement that will relieve the condition of contemporary culture.

13. The duty of the avant-garde consists solely and utterly in enforcing its recognition before its discipline and its program have become watered down — and this is precisely what the Situationist International intends to do.