From "The International Trans-Avant-Garde" by Achille Bonito Oliva (1981)
“This process is favored by the disintegration of the unitary idea of the work, a projection of the disintegration of unitary visions of the world. The totalizing vainglory of ideology was reflected in the stringent arrogance of the work of art, which bore models for the symbolic transformation of the world. Now, that arrogance has died out, and the artist no longer intends pathetically to preserve the myth of an impossible and impracticable integrity.
Working in fragments means preferring the vibrations of sensibility to monolithic ideological content. These vibrations are necessarily discontinuous. They carry the artist toward a project made of numerous linguistic accidents, beyond the logical coherence of poetry. Fragments are symptoms of an ecstasy of dissociation. They are signs of a desire for continuous mutation.
This continuous mutation becomes possible when the artist returns to the centrality of art. The work then becomes the point where the shifts in sensibility flow together. But this sensibility does not exclude the emotion of the mind, nor does it block out the tension of intelligence and culture. In fact, the work solidifies within itself the cultural and visual memory of other works-not as a quotation, but as a mobile and shifting investigation of preceding linguistic modules.
Fragments point to the possibility of constructing images piece by piece, outside the logic of planning, but within the bounds of a conception of art history that is open to reprise. As the ideological imperative has fallen, so has the preclusion of former linguistic models. Taking these models up again implies the possibility of a duet and a duel animated by other collisions of language. Fragments present the option of injecting the work with a healthy dose of inconstancy.
The artist employs the image as the solidification of numerous currents, as the agent of a thousand factors that guide the creative impulse. The latter becomes the new subject of the work; and the artist becomes a vehicle of sensibility which, through its shiftings, leads to the work and to the final result. This, in its ultimate persistence, is the fruit of a work process that rediscovers the ethic of a time of execution that was lost in the processes of conceptual art.
The discontinuity of sensibility leads also to the production of different images bound together by a practice that never repeats itself. These images take the disguise of figuration, of abstract marks, of opulence of material and color, without ever submitting to standardization. The work always responds to the requirements of the unrepeatable chance, because the relationship between the artist and his means of expression is unrepeatable.”
Translated from Italian
Essay on him
Interview from 1988
- art theory
- Los Angeles
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Avant Garde
- Bruce Wilhelm
- John Phillips
- Bruce Wilhem
- University of Texas at Austin
- performance art
- Wicker Park
- San Francisco
- Art in America