Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Derrière Garde Festival

I want to link to an interesting article about a different kind of arts festival. Here is the article. It is hard to summarize in a quote, but the idea is one that the novelist Tom Wolfe came up with, the idea of a "Regime Shift" that is akin to Thomas Kuhn's idea of a paradigm shift in science. Wolfe says he got it from economics, though:
"The `Regime Shift,'" says Wolfe, "is a term that I'm borrowing from economics. It refers to a situation in which suddenly the rules are changed. And when that happens, suddenly a lot of assets are lost, chaos results....Well, such things oddly enough can happen in art. Not quite as rapidly, but they have happened extremely rapidly."
He is talking about how the most successful painters around 1900 suddenly became forgotten just a couple of decades later because the modernist painters changed all the rules.
Wolfe believes that such a cultural shift is occurring right now. "I think it was 1985 or 1986, I was giving a talk at a museum out on Long Island. And the title of the talk was, `Picasso, the Bouguereau of the Year 2020.' And this was really a prediction of a Regime Shift." Wolfe's prophecy went totally unnoticed at the time. "The only reward I had was a diatribe at the end of the talk," he recalls, by "an extremely angry man."
So now we have a Derrière Garde festival that aims to acknowledge another change in the rules:
De Kenessey's proposal for the festival explained that, "What was once revolutionary is now the ruling orthodoxy...the avant-garde has become the status quo. A new generation of artists are actively re-engaging history...they neither regress to the distant past nor yearn for a now vanished world; instead, they strike out in an altogether different direction. By fusing tradition with innovation, the Western with the Eastern, they offer a radically new alternative for the art of the new millennium."
One group performing at the festival were the Ahn Trio whom I have heard in concert.

Kind of a bluesy, bluegrass sound...

Now what is kind of ironic here is that there doesn't seem to be anything sudden about this shift, assuming it is happening. For one thing, I think I would trace the beginnings, in music at least, to Steve Reich's Drumming of 1970. Also, if you go look at the article I have been quoting, it appeared in 1997! And it is still going on today with Philip Glass, now up to his Symphony No. 9:

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