I Declare


(Futurist work from David Carson)

Futurism, Dada, Abstract Expressionism, S.C.U.M., Vorticism, Situationism, Modernism itself. The 20th century was the century of the Movement, groups of artists, musicians, performers, photographers and writers united behind a common set of principles which acted as the black leather boots in which they marched towards a destiny that would change art and, through it, the world.

In the past quarter of a century that has dried to a trickle (aside from Stuckism, there is pretty much only Brutalism and Visceral Realism – and that’s made up) . Sure, this is the age of the mission statement – the forever champion of innovation, Porter Anderson, last year ran a fabulous series of such 5 minute manifestos on Futurebook. It’s even the age of things calling themselves manifestos. But the manifestos we have now are helpful, suggestive, top tips and inspirational quips. Why is that? Is it postmodernism? Have we moved beyond Hegelian politicizing of culture towards a more exploratory identity politics? Is there a place in today’s literary (or wider cultural) world for the manifesto that lays down principles and summons artists to gather round and bring them to life?

Adelle Stripe, my favourite poet, reading from Brutalism 1, pretty much the only manifesto-driven movement of this century.

These and other questions are what Ceri Lloyd and I will be asking in what could turn into an ideological balloon game. On April 4th, as part of this year’s Not the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to offer an invitation to you. We are looking for people who have a manifesto they would like to champion, and a work that perfectly illustrates it – it can be anything from the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement through Vorticism to something entirely your own (lots of those please and it would be really great if someone did put forward the S.C.U.M. manifesto!). If you are not Oxford based do still send in any and all suggestions!

Comment here, or email me on eightcutsgallery@gmail.com, by the end of February. And please share