Western Dissident Status

Whores of Avignon

Cy Shelby has been harassed by police, thrown in detention and driven out of Amnesia. “Relevant art must be political.”

By using his art as a weapon to challenge the cultural domination of western imperialism, he’s become one of the most successful contemporary artists in the world.

Some of his work can be offensive. But most journalists find him self-deprecating with a wry sense of humour. The last person you’d expect to be an enemy of the state.

By enhancing his celebrity through publicity stunts, he’s made it easy for the West to mock his dissident status.

He’s accused of being a narcissist more in tune with the whims of foreign admirers than the interests of his own people.

Despite being outspoken and refreshingly transgressive, he can easily be dismissed as a charlatan by state media in Amnesia. []

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Before the Bandwagon Starts Rolling

A hundred years ago, you couldn’t open a European newspaper without coming across the polemical manifesto of a new avant-garde artists’ movement.

The major movements of the 20th century – Dada, Fluxus, Futurism, Surrealism – started with artists’ statements of intent, often using inflammatory prose.

We can no longer categorise art as avant-garde. The commodity assembly line starts with a label. We go beyond with western dissident art. The manifesto is the artwork. []

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Avant-Garde Art Manifesto

In the age of hyper-capitalism, the tentacles of the corporate world extend further into our lives than ever before.

The words once used to signify creative rebellion – difference, controversy and provocation – have been co-opted and fetishised.

Art categories are used to sell coffee, promote tech products and entice property buyers to galleries in areas ripe for gentrification.

A hundred years ago, newspapers and magazines would regularly carry the polemical manifestos of avant-garde artists.

The major movements of the 20th century – Dada, Fluxus, Futurism, Surrealism – started with artists’ statements of intent, often using inflammatory prose.

The bourgeoisie are always ready to accommodate the aggression of the avant-garde and canonise its works of resistance. Today’s dissident artist is tamed by turning him/her into a celebrity.

The avant-garde cultural battle consumes itself. Increasingly narcissistic, art has become the celebration of individualism.

The avant-garde is part of the spectacle, in which smug liberals can ride the trend wagon. Challenging society’s mores has become a fashion statement. Warholism is the dominant form.

The contemporary avant-garde reflects the vulgar, commodified, institutionalised, deliberately outrageous art world.

The bourgeoisie have faith in western values. What better way to shake that faith than evoke the inculcation of those values?

Western dissident artists turn their manifestos into artworks. Without further doubt. WDA will quickly be appropriated. We chase our tales. Let’s settle for ludicrous. I play the WDA. []

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Pasolini: Western Dissident Artist

Western propaganda machine at full throttle.

Chinese dissident artist given top
billing at premier London art gallery.

What if tables were turned?

I babbled “western dissident artist.”
One result: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Taken from the babble book depository.

One western dissident artist? It just goes to show.

How could there be dissidence in the west?

We believe in democracy and freedom to shop where we like. []

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Western Dissident Artist

Search “western dissident artist”. One result: Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Auld Lang Syne has been constructed to appeal to the bourgeoisie. The exile, the misfit who fights communism and oppression.

He’s the postmodern Cold War dissident, a rare beacon of light who regurgitates freedom and democracy.

His blend of the holy-grail isms, minimal and conceptual, caters to a fine art sensibility. His work is both desirable and accessible.

China’s culture, people and governing ideology are sacrificed to Auld’s international acclaim as an artist.

The west’s dominant ideology embraces the dissident, so long as he’s from one of those awful totalitarian states.

Auld offers China up as fodder for our ideological reinforcement. To maintain conditioning the programme is regularly updated.

We visit art shrines to feel better about ourselves. By consuming the spectacle we’re doing the right thing for a good cause. []

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