Tuesday, October 9, 2012

the avanzada

Nelly Richard's book was an interesting read. Her definition of avant garde versus neo avant garde art, and the way she positioned the opposition as parallel to the traditional left versus the new left in dictatorship/post dictatorship Chile helpted me think through issues of memory and documentary. Although the book is about Chilean art, I immediately throught of Los Rubios, and the way in which Alberti refusses to take on the melancholic mantel of the left, opting instead for a heterogeneous inheritance.

At the same time, I wonder what gets lost by these categorizations- the strict binary between neo avant garde and avant garde, left and new left? Can a work be both theoretical and practical, deconstructing authoritarian language and totalizing concepts of history while at the same time addressing issues of class inequality?

Richard's use of Benjamin was useful for thinking through what gets left out of totalizing histories, histories that present the dictatorship as a single event, a scar on Chile's history, but her use of the word "redemptive" confused me. I thought that in Benjamin's Thesis on the Philosophy of History, a redemptive history is one which cites it in all its manifestations.  

The move towards the fragmented subject versus the collective "victim" of the dictatorship brought back last week's lecture (and the week before that) about the way the political function and problem of the collective "we". Richard's explication of the neo avant garde and the new left seems like a valuable solution to the question of alternative models of "resisistance" although the new left does not follow a resistance model but a deconstructive one.


  1. I'm intrigued by your implication that a work can exist beyond the binary. Be fragmented and collective, deconstructive and totalizing. To me, Richard's book operates on that third space as she gives an unifying voice to the forgotten fragments (as Valdés calls it, a "tribu").

  2. I agree with Guillermo's comment. I think Richard problematizes these binaries and gives that alternative space to rethink things, much like we saw with "El etnografo," is there a third option we aren't considering in larger discourses.

  3. I was also very interested in Richard's use of Benjamin in the first chapter, even the use of the word "homage" in her title of the chapter is very telling as to her relationship with his work. Your question in relation to "redemptive history" is not something that had occurred to me and would be an excellent subject to discuss in class.