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Sabitova V., "AVANT-GARDE’S BANNER OF RESISTANCE". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 5 (95) Part 3, (2020): 48. Tue. 19. May. 2020.
Sabitova, V. (2020). ZNAMYA SOPROTIVLENIYA AVANGARDA [AVANT-GARDE’S BANNER OF RESISTANCE]. Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal, № 5 (95) Part 3, 48-52.
Sabitova V. AVANT-GARDE’S BANNER OF RESISTANCE / V. Sabitova // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2020. — № 5 (95) Part 3. — С. 48—52. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2020.95.5.090




Научная статья

Сабитова В. *

Карлов университет, Прага, Чешская Республика

* Корреспондирующий автор (lera568[at]


Исторический авангард, фигурирующий в полемике Бюргера и Фостера, имел дело с вопросами институционализации, а современный дискурс авангарда характеризуется апеллированию к условиям капитализма, сопротивления и освобождения. Такая структура поднимает целый ряд вопросов, важных для авангарда как художественного движения на его современном этапе, и, с другой стороны, выдвигает на первый план теоретическую петлю, присущую «спасительной» риторике авангарда в условиях капитализма. Среди основополагающих вопросов, которые следует задать, будет следующий: является ли эта «спасительная» программа выполнимой вообще, и какова роль такой программы. Для решения этой проблемы предлагается противопоставить проект авангарда и школы мысли, которая возникла в 1990-х годах из работы Исследовательского отдела по культуре кибернетики (CCRU), и, в частности, работе одного из его теоретиков, Ника Лэнда, чьи взгляды на природу столицы предлагают отправную точку для настоящего исследования.

Ключевые слова: авангард, акселерационизм, Ник Лэнд, темпоральность, активность, освобождение, сопротивление. 


Research article

Sabitova V. *

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

* Corresponding author (lera568[at]


If the historical avant-garde featured in the polemics of Burger and Foster has been dealing with the issues of institutionalization, the contemporary discourse of the avant-garde is characterized by its appeal to the terms of capitalism, resistance and liberation.  Such framework raises a variety of issues essential to the avant-garde as an artistic movement in its contemporary phase and, on the other hand, foregrounds a theoretical loop inherent in the avant-garde’s ‘savior’ rhetoric under the condition of capitalism. The underlying questions to raise then are whether this ‘savior’ programme is accomplishable, if at all feasible, and what the role of such programme’s agency is.  To address this, it is suggested to juxtapose the project of the avant-garde against the school of thought that has evolved in the 1990s from the work of Cybernetics Culture Research Unit (CCRU) and, in particular, against the work of one of its theorists, Nick Land, whose views on the nature of the capital offer a starting point for the present research.

Key words: avant-garde, accelerationism, Nick Land, temporality, agency, liberation, resistance.


The polemics of Peter Burger and Hal Foster has foregrounded two approaches to the definition of the avant-garde – ‘current’ and ‘transtemporal’. “For many academics and critics the term only refers to whatever is the most current (most progressive) movement in modern art. Others even use it in a transtemporal sense—one not confined to the modern era. The painters of the early Renaissance can, in this sense, be readily discussed as an avant-garde [3, P. 696].”  The avant-garde’s conflation with modernism, as noted by Ray, is on the other pole of the definition: “In these narratives the role of the avant-gardes is to confirm the institution of autonomy and accomplish the rescue of art under capitalism – from kitsch [12, P. 246].“  That aligns the radical strain in the consciousness of modernity with the shift towards severing historical ties and valuing the present. Moreover, conceptualizing the avant-garde against the discourses of modernism and modernity results, according to Berry, in the “tendency to overemphasize art’s future at the expense of its past, leaving present work ungrounded [11, P. 36].” Indeed, such perception may have its origins as early as in the propositions of George Lukacs’s Theory of the Novel (1920), where the avant-garde was posited as an opponent of realism “reproducing whatever manifests itself immediately and on the surface [14, P. 30].”   According to Berry, Stanley Cavell’s overemphasis of art’s future results in “the avant-garde’s misrepresenting possibility as indeterminacy, its misinterpretation of art’s unforeclosable future as a hedge against its historical specificity, its present fix [11, P. 36].” Hence, the definitions of the avant-garde foreground its peculiar temporal essence but contrary to any other artistic movement, the avant-garde appears temporally fluid. Admittedly, Dada or Situationism are the avant-gardist signposts of certain eras; nevertheless, the avant-garde as a movement has by far not been exhausted by such signposts. Although the explanation for such a case may have partially lied in Poggioli’s distinction between schools and movements, the avant-garde’s temporal elasticity is not merely a matter of the dialectical nature of a movement. Rather,  the avant-garde’s transcending national  boundaries and universality of its experimental tendencies  proposed by Burger make it extendable beyond by-gone “post”- epochs of periodization and further into yet discursively unmapped future. Following this, it could be argued that such temporally-discursive elasticity of the concept can testify either to the certain level of its theoretical and empirical vulnerability or to its “inherently progressive theoretical [6, P. 262]” nature.

Taking this as a point of departure, the present investigation attempts to analyze this duality through the theoretical framework of Nick Land, a right-wing theorist of the school of thought known as Accelerationism. Evolved in the 1990s from the work of Cybernetics Culture Research Unit (CCRU), Accelerationism is also seen as an extension of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in its focus on the deterrritorializing power of capital. In the works of Nick Land, in particular, the conceptualization of capital acquires a significant role in relation to temporality and agency, two foundational concepts that philosophy has linked to each other throughout the centuries. Hence, through the avant-garde’s temporal and spatial planes, the present investigation seeks to foreground the avant-garde as a rupture in methodological sense. Because the juxtaposition of ‘previous forms of representation’ or ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture may occur only at the time and in the space of autonomous and institutionalized art where, in Marcuse’s words, the necessity of the avant-garde is linked to the survival of art through its self-critique and self-denial, the avant-garde’s temporal and spatial planes become the arenas for the avant-garde’s temporal elasticity and viability, albeit only up to a point when the agency of such rupture enters the discourse. At that particular moment, it will be argued, temporal elasticity, resilience and the rhetoric of resistance starts to function as one of capital’s pillars.

The Discourses of the Avant-Garde

A variety of authors have attempted to conceptualize the avant-garde both as a momentum in art history and as a dialectical movement. From Jose Ortega y Gassett’s The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art (1925) to contemporary perspectives on the avant-garde by the scholars of the present, the underlying feature of this phenomenon has been seen in its potential to ridicule art as itself. As early as the beginning of the twentieth century, Ortega identifies iconoclastic nature of the avant-garde when “it turns against and engages in a critique of art itself and as such [14, P. 16].” In an attempt to set a definitional framework for “the new art of the 20th century [as] a nascent reality [14, P. 17],” Ortega addresses the areas of the avant-garde’s production, distribution and consumption in its features of iconoclasm and unpopularity. Later on, Renato Poggioli’s The Theory of the Avant-Garde (1962) and Peter Burger’s Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974) have attempted to reflect on the movement as a historical moment. The significant parallel underlying these works lies in the avant-garde’s historical nature hence allowing to posit its essential characteristics as ‘moments,’ for Poggioli and as an ‘explanatory factor’ for an institution of already autonomous art, for Burger.

Poggioli’s approach distinguishes the avant-garde as a dialectical movement in its moments of activism, antagonism, nihilism, and agonism. Because Poggioli posits “the concept of movements […] internally and externally, [the avant-garde’s] ideological and psychological motivations as well as its practical, sociological consequences” become aligned with “a concrete end [10, P. 25].” The latter as related to the avant-garde is seen in “agitat[ing] for no other end than its own self, out of the sheer joy of dynamism, a taste for action, a sportive enthusiasm, and the emotional fascination of adventure [10, P. 25].” This may, to some extent, reflect Adorno’s suggestion that the avant-garde “is free from socially determined communication [14, P. 33]” and is “closed and self-sufficient [14, P. 33].” On the other hand, it foregrounds the discourse of purposeful rationality as a foundation for avant-gardist discourse. The limited significance of this feature is certainly admitted by Poggioli in “the movement formed in part or in whole to agitate against something or someone [10, P. 25].” Hence, activism and antagonism are further accompanied by the drive “beyond the point of control by any convention or reservation, […] in the act of beating down barriers, razing obstacles, destroying whatever stands in its way [until reaching the point when the movement] accepts [its own] self-ruin [10, P. 26].” These two moments represent nihilism and agonism, which presuppose the radical nature of the avant-garde and the similarity of such nature to ‘suicidal’ feature of capitalism posited by Nick Land in his Making It with Death essay published in 2011 in Fanged Noumena, Collected Writings 1987-2007. Land’s claim that “[i]f capital is a social suicide machine, it is because it is compelled to advantage its assassins [8, P. 266]” allows to place the notion of the avant-garde as defined by Poggioli on a par with ‘capitalist machine’, which in itself is a starting point for the present investigation.

Peter Burger’s take on the avant-garde expands this starting point even further in terms of viewing the avant-garde as a method of “eliminat[ing] art as an institution [4, P. 50]” on the levels of production and reception. Burger suggests replacing the term of ‘the avant-gardiste work’ with ‘avant-gardiste manifestation’ to “counter [the social functionlessness of Aestheticism] not by an art that would have consequences within the existing society, but rather by the principle of the sublation of art in the praxis of life [4, P. 51].” Moreover, Burger’s positing the avant-garde as a purposeless endeavor in its application and as a mockery to individual creativity in terms of its production suggests market-driven dynamics of avant-gardiste manifestation rather than its provocative nature. “If an artist today signs a stove pipe and exhibits it, that artist certainly does not denounce the art market but adapts to it. Such adaptation does not eradicate the idea of individual creativity, it affirms it, and the reason is the failure of the avant-gardiste intent to sublate art [4, P. 51].” In view of Land’s claim that “radical prioritization of the interrogative impulse [demonstrates that] critique belongs to capital [6, P.262],” even historical avant-garde as a failed project becomes in essence the space of the affirmation of capitalist dynamics.

Contemporary conceptualizations of the avant-garde link it to the poetics of the contemporaneity and technicity. Suggestion that “[…] with avant-garde practice in general, the emergence of discourses of the contemporary […] was the result of a complicated processes of socio-economic appropriation and synthesis, the fetishising and rejection of antecedent forms, and technological strategies beyond any straightforward chronology [2, P. 8]” by default places the movement into chronologized and de-chronologized spaces. The latter is not the space beyond humanist frame of the temporal per se but rather a subsystem, a sub-space of ‘beyond-hood’ whereby the chronology itself remains both visceral and visible in those very processes of ‘socio-economic appropriation’. It is from this perspective of the contemporary that the temporal acquires a theoretical significance in relation to the avant-garde. That can be further justified by the very proposition of the existence of culture ‘after the avant-garde’ when the new becomes defined as a technicity.  The concept of technique “no longer regarded as either inorganic or subordinate to an illusionistic mimeticism [2, P. 12]” allows technicity to assume “an ontological status it did not previously possess [2, P. 12].“ This perspective, to some extent, mirrors Burger’s view on the avant-garde as an explanatory factor since “the avant-garde has always served as a means by which, periodically, the commodity purifies itself [2, P. 9].” Furthermore, juxtaposition of this contemporary framework against Land’s proposition that “[t]he commodity ‘form’ is a transmutational matrix [6, P. 230]” allows to justify the present investigation of the avant-garde as a method rather than a movement. With its potential to serve as self-critique, such method may further be characterized as a rupture foregrounding “the commoditisation of the avant-garde [2, P.10]” itself. In other words, “[t]o be concerned with a poetics of the contemporary is to be concerned with this two-fold dynamic: the fascination of the avant-garde for the commodity myth which in turn reflects a fatal narcissism [2, P. 10]” the dynamics of which becomes visible on spatial and temporal planes.

Temporal and Spatial Planes of the Avant-garde

As noted by Nick Land on Hermitix podcast, the treatment of time represents one of the ‘comical’ cases of confusion. Apart from the consequences for the concepts of free will and determinism – in other words, autonomy versus subordination, subjectivity versus subjectification – the metaphysical perception of time, according to Land, is a hopeless undertaking as it attempts to perceive time as an object in time, either efficient or final, neither of which represents rigorously critical approach.  “When you stop trying to put time in time, then you are no more confused by convergent waves and divergent waves, or finalistic processes then efficient processes; both of those things are making equal sense and, if taken in exclusion of the other, they make equal nonsense. The notion that the future is somehow unmade and is incomplete and the past is complete is anthropomorphic illusion [5].” It is this sense that the avant-garde in its temporal perception whether within or beyond chronology appears to function as an object within objectified time and, hence, its peculiar and temporally-elastic niche appears to make no more sense than the approach to any other historically delimited slice of art.

Yet, the programmatic aspect of the definition of the avant-garde “to confirm the institution of autonomy and accomplish the rescue of art under capitalism [12, P. 246]” is another consequence of the avant-garde’s anthropomorphic perception of temporality. The attempt to counter this ‘objectified’ conception has been made in attributing the avant-garde a certain sense of anachrony linked to the advent of the machinic of the post-industrial age: the machine’s transcending ‘the human will-to-progress’ and acquiring auto-poesis and its own discursive power, according to Armand, results in the disjointedness in the “time of production [1, P. 197]” and anachrony. In the first place, once anthropomorphic plane is transcended by the machinic, the concept of anachrony becomes theoretically reductive because it places the processes posited beyond ‘the human will – to – whatever – and – not –only -progress’ back into the objectified time loop.  The same loop ensues when the avant-garde, “whose claim to being somehow before the time [is tied to] an inherent anachronism of political economy and the experimental sciences,” is further oriented towards “the unrealized and the ‘unrepresentable’ at the limits of received knowledge [which] is always accompanied by a dependency upon previous forms of representation and conceptualization in order to formulate, precisely, an idea of what the limits of the knowledge in fact are” and is perceived as ”counter-historical movement [1, P.197].”  If, on the one hand, we are departing from the machine’s transcending ‘the human will-to-progress’ which essentially conditions the states of disjointedness of time and production anthropomorphically, the whole project of realizing ‘the unrealized and the unpresentable’ as posited against ‘previous forms of representation’ appears to be possible only in objectified time slices. On the other hand, breaking the overall time into historical stages indeed qualifies the avant-garde as “counter-historical-movement” and also signposts time as an object. Despite the avant-garde’s fluid temporal borders, only in its temporally-objectified sense its feature of being ‘before the time’ is conceivable. Thus, departing from such contingent nature of the avant-garde’s definition and juxtaposing it against other levels of cultural production invariably result in ‘back-to-square-one’ time loop despite the claims of its temporal elasticity and resilience.

Another illusion of escaping a theoretical loop is the avant-garde’s spatially rather than temporally disjoined niche. This spatial niche no longer operates on the terminology of ‘previous’ or ‘current’ forms of representation but resorts to the concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ or ‘popular’ culture and suggests to look into “avant-garde works themselves, which on closer inspection reveal real levels of discord and dissent from the expectations of the popular text and therefore are resistant to assimilation [13, P. 293].” Herein, the proponent of such view suggests that “the avant-garde continues to exert its renunciative force even in conditions of (partial) assimilation and general marginalization. It is more fruitful to look at the avant-garde as a kind of residual placeholder for art’s autonomy and, as such, it is better understood as a spatial concept rather than as a supersessive procession of formalized groups or movements [13, P. 293].” Paradoxically, though, such ‘residual placeholder’ is anyway juxtaposed against temporally pinned ‘expectations of the popular texts’ and hence is also an illusory escape from the planes of objectification.

The overall undertaking of the avant-garde within or beyond the rhetoric of an autonomous niche or ‘supersessive movement’, ‘anachrony’ or ‘unrepresentability’, ‘assimilation’ or ‘renunciation’, ‘dissent’ or ‘marginalization’  foregrounds its temporally and spatially vulnerable nature. Empirically speaking of representation as a mimetic method, the avant-garde may be considered a rupture in methodological sense. Such perspective may account for the avant-garde reliance on and juxtaposition against temporal (‘previous forms of representation’)  and spatial  (‘high’ and ‘low’ culture) planes as indeed a rupture in the method may occur at any point of time, objectified not excluded, and at any spatial level. However, as soon as the issue of the agency of such rupture enters the discussion, temporal elasticity, resilience and the overall rhetoric of ‘the avant-garde’s future or futures’ starts to reveal capitalist mechanics at its core.  The explanation for that may lie in the fact that “[t]hose seeking to defend the human management of social processes (where ‘man’ speculatively unites with the God of anthropomorphic monotheism) can have no project [6, P. 230-231]” but to restore that very mechanics the avant-garde attempts to subvert.

The Agency of ‘Immanent Liberation’

Anthropomorphic perception of time confines the mechanism of liberation to humanism. In his interview to Justin Murphy, Nick Land highlights the necessity to break the overall project of “reengineering social reality” from the issue of agency. He believes that “attribution of a subject [7]” to the issue of tactical potential (“Who is doing this stuff [7]?” – individuals or the group of individuals in collective sense) results in the teleological structure: tactical opportunities serve to these agents as tools and the agents are by default endowed with the political guidance as masters over these tools. “[T]he technological and economic materials are subordinated in principle; even before you have your revolutionary suppression of capitalism, you have a theoretical suppression because you’re thinking of it as just a toolkit to be put in the hands of various kinds of human agents to pursue their projects [7].“

Such perspective more than just prophesying failure of any ‘renunciation’ project or ‘rupture’, rather cautions against possible terminological loops and the ways in which the avant-garde relies on its own toolkit. Indeed, programmatically, critics have already endowed the avant-garde with the task of raising awareness “in the forms of art […] validated by their political efficacy [11, P. 37].”  This revolutionary and emancipatory tone is what the avant-garde shares with accelerationism of the 1990s.  However, the overall consideration of the limits of human agency is by far not enough for the present discussion. What also decisively enters the polemics is the nature of capitalism under which such project should be considered.

One of the critical opinions strives to draw a borderline between the avant-garde and art in general, or ‘art under capitalism’ (AUC, hereafter). At the center of AUC: “the artist, then and still the individual, original and authentic genius-creator of work, opus, oeuvre. Signature as auratic seal, proof of presence, which the institutions convert to symbolic power and the market reduces to exchange value. Artistic autonomy [is to some degree only a] qualified permission to evoke and explore what lies beyond […]. But only in art, not in ‘life’. This rule is non-negotiable. Only virtual enactments are permitted [12, P. 242].“  Considering the avant-garde as a niche freed from these ills of the AUC, the critic claims that “none of this, however, is the concern of the avant-gardes – or, for that matter, of radical anti-capitalist strategy [12, P. 244].”  The principle underlying such possibility is referred to as ‘iterability’: if “the work […] is the prerequisite of institutional objectification and the final reduction to exchange value, […] commodified in advance [12, P. 247],“ iterability as “the structural possibility, beyond the aim of any intention [12, P. 247]” can displace work  from its original context and re-graft it onto others thus making institutionalization hardly possible. Such iterability, according to the author, allows for the recognition of “the mutable, always renewable force of avant-garde breakouts and their relations to the project of anti-capitalist revolution [12, P. 244].” In the context of the nature of capital, such argument falls back on itself. If any tools in the hands of a human agency are ‘subordinated in principle’, it remains unexplained how the avant-garde relying on its own toolkit, be it called ‘iterability’ or otherwise, manages to escape such subordination.  Rather, despite its mutability and renewable force, it may be argued that it represents essentially capitalist method of artistic production.

On the one hand, this ‘mutability’ and ‘renewable force’ appear to be essentially temporal. If according to Stein, an inherent relation of the avant-garde to the present or past forms of art roots itself in the feeling of “how out of synch things are” and “wherever the present achieved expression, those living in it will find it confusing, irritating, unnatural, ugly [11, P. 38]” or in other words ‘unrepresentable’, the sense of novelty and mutability that ensues is temporally conditioned. In this regard, the avant-garde becomes a way, legitimated by the capital to express the feeling of temporal self-alienation.  Moreover, if “as soon as anyone tries to say what’s out of synch, he she becomes obsolete too [11, P. 38],” the avant-garde as a method acquires all features of capital which functions, according to Land, as a self-perpetuating diagram. Obsolesce and novelty alternate in the mechanism of legitimated resistance providing the habitat for the ‘unrepresentable’, the sense of de-commodified agency cognizant of  contingencies of subjectivity, and the limits of temporal and  historical processes. The avant-garde may succeed in acknowledging “something as inescapable as an entrenched enemy but [it] resists our direct advance as forcefully as a machine gun [11, P. 38].” Hence, the rhetoric of emancipation and rupture – a “weird academic game [7]” – remains confined to the question of “what is being emancipated [7]?”  If one, like Land, is ”not into emancipated human groups, an emancipated human species, [but] totally nods along to it if what is meant by that is capital autonomization [5],” it becomes clear that the avant-garde laden with humanist emancipation and anti-capitalist rhetoric moves along rather than against capital autonomization lines.

Yet another loop is observable if the caution not to “lapse into a humanistic language [7]” and “not to reproduce the unnecessarily naïve notions of the human subject [7]” does not mean that that the area of resistance lies beyond humanity.  Although “true emancipation, as something that is intensely and really produced, corresponds strictly to a process of dehumanization [5],” the party of resistance remains essentially human. The essence of accelerationism is to bring forth the controversial intensity of such resistance under the condition of capital. The anti-static nature of capital necessitates resistance as a means to capital’s own ends.  ”Capital just brings up like mushrooms everywhere […]. You cannot get engaged in any process that is self-reinforcing without turning it into capital [5].” Hence, the concern for the ‘competent’ or ‘efficient’ resistance and rupture by the avant-garde. Judging the latter as a niche within art system certainly allows for myopic enjoyment of the fruits of such resistance; considering it as a part of the whole picture qualifies any optimism as unjustified. Therefore, the temporal elasticity of the avant-garde as a method and its agency-bound nature represent at the same time convergent and divergent waves: the consistency of the avant-garde project is perfectly maintained within an artistic nook but deeply compromised once it is taken out of it and posited into the milieu of capital.

In the latter case, the avant-garde as a capitalist method of artistic production within ‘self-sustaining’ and self-feeding process of capital functions like Land’s metaphor of radioactive rods “that are damped down by graphite containment rods, and you start pulling out those graphite rods, and at a certain point it goes critical and you get an explosion. […] That’s the sense [in which] capitalism has always been there. It’s always been there as a pile with the potential to go critical […]. That’s what liberation looks like: pulling out enough of the containment structure that this new, self-feeding dynamic process erupts [7].” This is what Luhmann calls “a self-destabilising” but “recursive [9, P. 51]” process. However, once the avant-garde is treated as an abstraction within itself, it becomes “a process in which signs and materials are incorporated into new constellations, yielding non-customary forms of attention and, therefore, requiring from the spectator a renewed engagement with art […] on the basis of the subject’s marking of an ‘unmarked-marked’ space. But contra-Luhmann, this marking of unmarked space is also driven by the diremptions of the artistic subject who is himself or herself ‘out of joint’ with the traditions he or she inhabits, reinscribes and performs [13, P. 296].” It is in this sense that the post-industrial avant-garde machines serve as an escape machines with the task to “formulate what the limits of [received] knowledge in fact are and what the ‘unrepresentable’ might be [1, P. 197].”  What  unites Luhmann’s ‘self-destabilization’,  Armand’s ‘escape machines’, Stein’s ‘novelty and obsolescence’ is capital’s own counter-stasis drive so essential to the definition of the avant-garde itself. Seeing the avant-garde otherwise would make it seem utterly impoverished and dislodged from any social experience. The discourses of its counter-historicity or de-subjectification are capital-legitimated “possibility of art’s continuing self-realization under the instrumentalizing forces of the commodity-form [13, P. 293].”

“The fact that the motor of modernity, its fundamental infrastructure is capital and that is because capital is in its fundamentals nothing but a self- amplifying diagram [5],” to some extent, necessitates the avant-garde. Capital is, therefore, the origin of the avant-garde rather than its long-term target. This is visible in the latter’s temporal elasticity and the controversy of ‘non-agent’ agency of resistance. “Every  attempt to  sort of fix a particular epochal set of characteristics of capital that concretizes it beyond that abstract loop tends to be just outflanked and enveloped by the actual process which has no sort of attachment to any particular concrete instantiation as long as that concrete instantiation allows this abstract amplificatory loop to  realize itself. And anything that obviously inhibits that loop tends to be outcompeted by somethings that inhibits it less. […] And that is why […] it monopolizes escape. If escape into capitalism is not the escape you want, then modern history is not for you [5].” In other words, in its ‘bid for knowledge [1, P. 198],’ the avant-garde produces critique and anti-critique under the banner of resistance with fluidity and resilience of capital and with human agency countered by non-agency, if need be.  It is in this sense that both capital and the avant-garde are the escape “not for us but from us [5].” The avant-garde’s escape machine may necessitate an ‘operator’, especially when language is perceived mechanically as “a ‘system’ of mechanical transformations, iterations and reversions [1, P. 203].” An ‘operator’ as a machinic agency automatically coordinating a set of algorithms or rules with each other in relation between signification and materiality in turn contributes to on-going fluidity and anti-stasis. With capital anything but stasis, probabilistic rather than deterministic nature of language makes “the nostalgia for the unattainable [1, P. 200]” impossible to share collectively. The machinic nature of the language allowing the avant-garde to juggle various forms of temporality, subjectivity and  de-subjectificaion thus also functions in ideally capitalistic mode:  the idea of escape on an assembly line and a miniature banner of resistance flapping in the wind above a neatly mowed lawn of a suburban residence of an intellectual.


The present investigation has looked into the concept of the avant-garde under the conditions of capitalism and outlined the former as the inherent machinic part of the latter. The early and contemporary conceptualizations of the avant-garde have foregrounded features of the movement that allowed to place the avant-garde’s potential to sublate the institution of art and to serve as a self-critique into temporal and spatial planes operative within the movement under the condition of capitalism. The latter has been approached from the theoretical framework of accelerationism and the propositions of Nick Land.  The analysis thus undertaken has allowed to arrive at several conclusions.

First, it has been shown that temporal rhetoric at the root of the avant-gardist thinking is tied to anthropomorphic illusion of unmade future and complete past.  This makes the avant-garde’s temporally elastic niche to make no more sense than the approach to any other historically delimited slice of art. On the other hand, the rhetoric of the avant-garde as an anachronous or dissenting niche temporally or spatially juxtaposed against ‘previous forms of representation’ or ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture has allowed to define the avant-garde as a rupture in methodological sense only as long as the issue of the agency of such a rupture is left out of discussion. As soon as such agency enters this rhetoric, ‘the avant-garde’s future or futures’ starts to reveal capitalist mechanics as its core.

Herein, it has also been suggested that the overall consideration of the limits of a human agency is by far not enough since the nature of capitalism turns artistic autonomy into the mechanism of virtual enactments of resistance. Even the concept of ‘iterability’ of the avant-garde acquires all features of capital which functions as a self-perpetuating diagram. Resistance or self-critique becomes a legitimized habitat for legitimized projects of ‘immanent liberation’ because emancipation, as a process of dehumanization, remains essentially human even when human agency is countered by non-agency. Therefore, the future of capital and the future of the avant-garde become either a tautology or a theoretical loop. When Land reflects on the possibility of “the notorious death of capitalism [6, P. 266],” he notes that “death is not an extrinsic possibility of capital, but an inherent function [6, P. 266].” In the similar manner, Armand contends that “[i]t’s hardly surprising that within a culture dominated by commoditisation, a critical poetics is intimated to be impossible [2, P. 16].”

Конфликт интересов

Не указан.

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

Список литературы / References

  1. Armand, Louis. “Avant-Garde Machines, Experimental Systems.” Avant-Post. The Avant-Garde under ‘post-‘ conditions. Ed. / Louis Armand. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2006. 194-214.
  2. The Organ Grinder’s Monkey. Culture after the Avant-garde. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia Books, 2013.
  3. Burger, Peter. “Avant-Garde and Neo-Avant-Garde: An Attempt to Answer Certain Critics of Theory of the Avant-Garde.” New Literary History (2010): 695–715. <>.
  4. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Trans. Michael Shaw. Manchester University Press, University of Minnesota Press , 1984.
  5. Land, Nick. “Accelerationism and Capital.” Hermitix Podcast. 1podcast. [Electronic resource] / Land, Nick. URL: <>. (accessed: 13/11/2028)
  6. Land, Nick. “Fanged Noumena.” Land, Nick. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 Ed. Robin Mackay & Ray Brassier. Falmouth: Sequence / Land, Nick. //Urbanomic, 2012.
  7. Land, Nick. Idelolgy, Intelligence, and Capital Justin Murphy. 19 July 2018.. .[Electronic resource] [Electronic resource] / Land, Nick. URL: <>.(accessed: 20/12/2019)
  8. Land, Nick. “Making it with Death.” Land, Nick. Fanged Noumena, Collected Writings 1987-2007 Ed. Robin Mackay & Ray Brassiere. Falmouth: Sequence / Urbanomic, 2012.
  9. Luhmann, Nikolas. Art as a Social System. Trans. Eva M. Knodt. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.
  10. Poggioli, Renato. The Theory of the Avant-Garde. Trans. Gerald Fitzgerald. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harward University Press, 1968.
  11. R.M. “The Avant-Garde and the Question of Literature.” Avant-Post. The Avant-Garde under ‘post-‘ Conditions. Ed. Louis Armand. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2006. 35-56.
  12. Ray, Gene. “Avant-Gardes as Anti-Capitalist Vectors.” Third Text 21.3 (2007): 241-255. [Electronic resource] / URL: <>.(accessed: 02/02/2020)
  13. Roberts, John. “Art and its Negations.” Third Text 24.3 (2010): 289-303. [Electronic resource]  / Roberts, John. URL: <>. (accessed: 29/11/2019)
  14. Strydom, Piet. Theories of the Avant-Garde. 1984. [Electronic resource]  / Strydom, Piet.  URL: (accessed: 7/04/2030)

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