Tuesday, 25 July 2000

From "Agoraphobia, and the embarrassment of manifestos"

By Drew Milne.

The modernist manifesto works as a form of public proclamation which seeks to generate debate and publicise the intentions and opinions of an avant-garde movement: it is both a response to the need to seek out and draw together a public, as well as being a public form of collective poetry. The most important modernist manifesto is Marx’s Communist Manifesto, but it is perhaps the Futurists who establish the principle of the manifesto as a form of art as aggressive action, and the key tool in the guerilla tactics of avant-gardes, not least to confront the marginalisation of serious aesthetic practices by the culture industry. As Ian Hamilton Finlay put it in a detached sentence on revolution issued by The Committe of Public Safety, Little Sparta: Freedom of speech is not freedom to speak it is the freedom to discuss.

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