The Imaginary Exit of Disengagement

By Edith Brunette
Text published in The Idea of the Avant Garde - And What It Means Today, vol. 2, Edited by Marc James Léger, University of Chicago Press and Intellect Books

“Half a century later, this market-dominated art system, that of the biennales, big museums, galleries and auction houses, is undertaking a return to political art in large part through the promotion of the artist as a figure of exoticism, the victimized Other from developing and war-torn countries, failed states and the few remaining communist dictatorships. It goes without saying that those who are writing this story about the new global ‘avant garde’ are most of them living in the western so-called democracies. As a side-effect, this new construct of global art allows professional artists and art workers from the said democracies to wash their hands from the need to actively embrace constructive political and collective efforts.
        The association of political engagement with artists from the so-called ‘margins’ prolongs and confirms, I argue, the imaginary of artists of my generation in a country like Canada where the choice of working with local issues as much as engagement seems detrimental.”

Translated from French by Marc J. Léger