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Retheorising the Avant-garde Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

When Dec 12, 2015 09:30 AM to
Dec 13, 2015 01:00 PM
Where King’s College, University of Cambridge
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We are pleased to announce ‘Retheorising the Avant-garde Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’, a new two-day workshop to be held at King’s College, University of Cambridge.

Organised by Georgina Born (Oxford), Christopher Haworth (Oxford), and Jonas Tinius (Cambridge), the event stems from the ERC-funded ‘Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies’ (MusDig) research programme.

Today, claims for the ‘avant-garde’ status of certain art, musical, theatrical and literary movements and practices are being made with an intensity matching any previous era. Yet these putative avant-gardes often inhabit institutions, find their support in commerce, and can attract subsidies and publicity in ways that approach or match mainstream cultural production, and that oppose the earlier positioning of avant-gardes outside or against these structures. Indeed, the sheer proliferation and scale of such movements and practices seem to contradict the erstwhile claims made for the avant-garde’s marginal, ‘outsider’, underground or independent status, calling forth new approaches to the theory of the avant-garde.

Bringing together anthropology, art history, musicology, performance studies, and practice-based research, the aim of this workshop is to retheorise the avant-garde in light of these and other changes. The workshop will be structured around two panels: the first, From Cage to Conceptual to Post-conceptual Art, will examine the temporal and (inter)disciplinary framing of avant-gardes through the various directions that led out of Cage and the New School, such as Fluxus, Conceptualism, musical experimentalism, etc. The second, From the 1990s to the Contemporary: Experiments, Laboratories, Exchanges, will address the utility and adequacy of the concept of the avant-garde in relation to today’s post-medium, post-conceptual ecology.

Speakers include: Branden W. Joseph (Columbia), Benjamin Piekut (Cornell), David Cunningham (Westminster), Lucia Ruprecht (Cambridge), Roger Sansi (Goldsmiths), Agostino Di Scipio (Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella), Beate Kutschke (Dresden), Luke Skrebowski (Cambridge), John Roberts (Wolverhampton), Alyce Mahon (Cambridge) and Stephen Graham (Goldsmiths).

If you are interested in attending the workshop as a guest, please email the organisers Christopher Haworth () and Jonas Tinius () with a brief indication of how your research interests relates to the themes of the workshop. Places are limited and we welcome active participation.


Image : 'Reunion' (1968). Avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp playing chess against composer John Cage. Performance at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto. (Photo Credits: musicworks magazine)