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What is avant-garde in theatre today?

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To rewrite everything, not to rely on the past of things, on definitions, on the efforts of the past, to take a second look upon the era in which we live.

The expression ‘avant-garde’ was a military term that meant the vanguard. Gradually it began to be attributed to every pioneering or experimental idea that was applied in art, in expression in general, but also in politics. There is an identification of the avant-garde concept with boldness, as well as with the future, but also with eccentricity (in the negative sense of the word). In many cases, the expression ‘avant-garde’ was considered revolutionary in relation to the prevailing aesthetics and characterized the rupture with traditional ideologies and the prevailing situation.

The individual definitions that describe avant-garde are experimentation, radicalism, technology, unorthodox methodology, and practice.

The editors of ACT II redefine avant-garde with sub-definitions such as technology, time, survival, market, alternative narratives, mode of production. Avant-garde is human rights, production conditions, alternative narratives, the rebellious nature of a work of art, and the quest for a better world. For anyone who does not want to read the article, they conclude, when they do not disagree, that the avant-garde is Aris Retsos and the time management that each one of us has.

Technology

Prodromos Tsinikoris: I think it is interesting to look at whether the artistic avant-garde was something that managed to copy-paste what was happening in society in order to apply it on stage, in a painting, or wherever. Right now, and even more so in the future, we are surrounded by holograms, robots, artificial intelligence. If someone copy-pastes it and says: ‘I want to have robots, holograms, artificial intelligence, etc. in the next performance’. Does this: a) make him a pioneer? and b) to what extent does the example of avant-garde continue?

So, if you asked me, Giorgos, ‘What is avant-garde today?’, I would say: ‘Maybe an algorithm writing a play?’. Of course, this is not avant-garde in itself, and that is because algorithms are slowly beginning to play a more important role in our lives. Do you understand how I put it?

Giorgos Valais: I understand how you put it.

Ioanna Valsamidou: Prodromos, I have the feeling that what you are saying is quite mainstream. Predictably, this is where art goes. So, whatever is predictable, for me is not avant-garde and that is what defined avant-garde artists. Today there are  theatre performances with robots on stage. I don’t believe this can be considered avant-garde art.

Prodromos: You are wrong because the world of arts or spectators considers it innovative. Why? Because I see it for the first time.

Grigoris Liakopoulos: The way we put it, it is a little different. What Prodromos says is more literal avant-garde. Someone who paves the way for where things will go. Right? And what you mean, Ioanna, if I understood correctly, is more something that no one will ever follow, right?

Prodromos: Proposing an alternative path that no one will follow. 

Grigoris: Exactly. It is Artaud, for example, who ends up in the psychiatric hospital. They are slightly different views of the concept. 

Ioanna: In our previous meeting, Giorgos said that the avant-garde is Aris Retsos1Antigone. Aris Retsos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChRuW9mUsTg&t=2037s.

Prodromos: Yes, because no one wants to become Artaud, as Grigoris said before, or no one can become…

Giorgos: Also no one cannot or does not want to become Andrei Tarkovsky. I don’t know, is Tarkovsky considered avant-garde? He uses art to talk about a world of his own as he understands it, which is not very avant-garde from what I understand. It does not concern technology either, it concerns human faith, it concerns ontological issues, which are hidden in the individual and are not affected by the seasons.

Grigoris: You know what, the problem is that the issue of the market is being raised again, what we consider to be pioneering. I mean, there may have been Tarkovsky or anyone, like Artaud, who ended up in the psychiatric hospital and we all now say they are pioneering. And there may have been many others who did the same and a thousand times better things and no one knows them, because they were not written in the history of art.

Giorgos: I put all these sub-definitions, such as experimentation, radicalism, technology, unorthodox methodology, and practice, to clarify it. All these are supposed to have composed avant-garde, which by definition is very old. I mean, the experimental, the avant-garde, the research project, are definitions of 1970, that is, half a century…

Manolis Manousakis: Sorry but it is the ’30s, not the 70s. May I tell you something, Giorgos? I believe that nowadays we must express ourselves in any way that suits us. There can be no arrogant criticism around, either for the definitions we use or for who we are, etc. If we still discuss these, our generation has overtaken us. And if we do not put the TikTok generation in the narrative, then we talk just between us.

The editors of ACT II redefine avant-garde with sub-definitions such as technology, time, survival, market, alternative narratives, mode of production. Avant-garde is human rights, production conditions, alternative narratives, the rebellious nature of a work of art, and the quest for a better world.

Purchase-Unorthodox practice

Giorgos: I believe that none of us thinks: ‘I will do something experimental or I will do something avant-garde’. Nevertheless, the typology exists. It comes from the journalists and the critics, not from the artists themselves.

Manolis: It comes from us. We tell journalists what to write. Which journalist deals with the avant-garde?

Giorgos: I don’t know if avant-garde exists in Greece, I wonder if there is something around us that carries a new element, ultra modernity. Do you understand how I put it, there are people who are interested in technology and everything that is happening around us in recent years. 

Io: For me, there is a difference in this modernity, Giorgos. There is a difference today, compared to an older era, as I can imagine it, of course. I think that today there is an unorthodox methodology and practice. To me, unorthodox is the most interesting word from the ones you write in relation to avant-garde. I mean, I don’t understand why the issue of technology must necessarily be on the table. We could be talking about a pioneering performance that has nothing to do with holograms. 

Giorgos: Yes, of course. 

Io: Considering the part of the unorthodox, however, I think we are in a phase where it is very difficult for the artist, or the creator, or the group of creators to find the way and the time to make and search their language on it because this can occur over a period of time. You need a period of time of constant upheavals of yourself, but at the same time, you also create a language. I think we are in a phase where whatever is a system, the unorthodox takes it and makes it orthodox. It’s like it tells you: ‘Look, innovation’ and you finish before you’ve even started. By you, I mean any creator who’s searching for this unorthodox practice.

Giorgos: I think that what you’re saying is a permanent pattern in some articles by Savvas Partsalidis that the avant-garde is institutional, that it is now supported by institutions.

Io: For me, that’s true… we live in a phase that is awkward. I return to the interruption again, I feel very lost. I don’t know what the place I enter and search is, I should have the ability to search this language without what I do being called a product and without having to be a product. It’s very hard. The part of the unorthodox practice needs time and this time is not given at the moment. There is no time.

Giorgos: You mean by the market. 

Io: Yes, and that is why the limits of the market and our minds are now indistinguishable. Because you also live in it. 

Giorgos: But this is the problem of the time. We have internalized capitalism, I mean, capitalism is now the way we think. It is not just a political-economic system that is around us, it has been internalized within us.

Io: That is exactly what I’m saying. You are consumed before even acting. Before you exist, you are consumed. 

Giorgos: But isn’t this what was happening to the singer of the king as well? At one point, his larynx was cut. We don’t know if he wasn’t singing well anymore or if another better singer was out.

Alternative narratives-Method of production

Prodromos: I would like to add something because we once discussed it. In theatre, most have already been done. There’s not much more to do. I mean, actors have come on stage, new works have come on stage, works written by actors have come on stage, non-actors have come on stage, embalmed animals have come on stage2Raed Yassin, The Sea Between My Soul… We have seen almost everything. So, the innovative can only be defined as that which uses new-age technology on stage or, and this is perhaps more important to me, whatever does not reproduce dominant narratives. Whatever presents, constructs, proposes alternative narratives and propositions, whatever proposes solutions to how a different, even better society, could be in the future. These narratives. While we were working at the Experimental Stage, I was insisting on producing Eduard Louis’s The end of Eddy. A play in which a gay writer from France describes his childhood in the French countryside. And I had heard this comment inside the National Theatre: ‘Guys, can’t you produce a normal story? A story in which a boy meets a girl’. And I was telling them: ‘2.500 years we see this, a theatrical dramaturgy, Romeo meets Juliet. Why not listen to another story? Why not worry about something else that I would not encounter under other circumstances?’ I was very happy about the performances that took place in the Experimental Stage and were embraced by the LGBTQI community. 

Grigoris: I both agree and disagree with you. I agree that the unorthodox doesn’t lie only in form. This is a misinterpretation, a distortion that was created over the years. I mean, it is not just a matter of medium, but it is also a matter of content, and a matter of what you do, not just how you do it. On the other hand, I don’t think that everything has been done. Every era believes the same about itself, that everything has been done. It may be in my best interest to believe that, to have something new to do.

Prodromos: This is nice, narcissistic. 

Grigoris: Yes, it is narcissistic, but I think the terms avant-garde, innovation, should not concern us. They should concern other people, the ones who write history. These are really market issues, whoever writes history and as the history of humanity is written by the winners, so it is in art. The winners write the history in art as well. Eduard Louis is a very nice example of how someone is considered a pioneer and within a year he is not anymore. What does pioneering mean? When his novel was published in France and the rest of Europe, there was a total blast about it and now, four years later, he is touring Europe together with Thomas Ostermeier.

Prodromos: The fact that Eduard Louis is now performing with Ostermeier does not affect the fact that: a) spectators suddenly come to the theatre and say: ‘Yes, I am interested in these stories’ and b) it activates other artists to say: ‘ There is also this way out, there is also this way for us, to write like this ‘. We may not want to work with Ostermeier, but we do want to continue this independent, solitary, or whatever course in the future as well. 

Grigoris: Yes, of course. It is just indicative of how fast this is changing, how different the situation is in Germany, where he is now a regime, performing on big stages, compared to Greece, where he performed for two days in a basement.

Prodromos: The point is to get started on these issues because it is not easy. There is another story that will say: ‘Gay stories again? Refugees again? Immigrants again?’. So you wonder, how many performances with gay or refugee themes have we seen in Athens? That is, what is the dominant narrative, to what extent was it constructed, and to what extent is it valid? Concerning the refugee theme, there have been ten performances in Greece in the last five years. In the last five years, however, there have been eight thousand performances in Greece as well. There is an imbalance between what is real and what the dominant narrative is, what we do not want to see and what we would like to see.

Grigoris: You are right, I just think that in this case, we should not worry about whether this is pioneering or not. Yes, there is an immediate need to renegotiate or renegotiate constantly what we portray and how we portray our world on a stage.

Giorgos: Isn’t all this postmodernism? It has nothing to do with what, it has to do with how, I mean, how you present a story.

Grigoris: Why do you say that?

Giorgos: I mean, now we have two things involved. I understand that all this typology of art concerning the avant-garde, the innovative, etc. which did not only have a specific form, concerns a society that had and has a technological acceleration and wanted to see in the performing arts this acceleration that was happening in the past. I now believe that in the case of Eduard Louis the issue is the story itself and not its form. But my opinion is that perhaps the content is not enough to make an avant-garde project.

Prodromos: What I say is that content or work that goes against entrenched prevailing beliefs could be considered avant-garde nowadays.

Io: No. I agree that the part of the dominant narrative is very important. I totally agree with that, but I believe that it does not mean that we are talking about a performance that is avant-garde in itself. 

Prodromos: I didn’t say that, I said that it could, I mean, the thought, as a starting point, that here we are going to deconstruct dominant narratives, this could be considered avant-garde nowadays, just as the use of holograms or robots on stage could be considered avant-garde nowadays. At a time when I believe that most have either been tried or done, or there is not much room to do something else, that’s what I said. I did not say that this is an absolute truth and that’s it. 

Giorgos: So for you, the avant-garde is a matter of ideology and not just a matter of form. 

Prodromos: Perhaps it is also a matter of a much more targeted proposal. Dude, that’s a very nice question. Without meaning with this, that a play by Dostoyevsky cannot be considered pioneering because someone thought of doing it this way. What, I think, we could call avant-garde, is two things: a) the use of new-age technology on stage, not people, etc. non-actors, and b) alternative narratives that say: ‘let’s put an end to heterosexual relationships, let’s put an end to patriarchy, let’s put an end to this, let’s put an end to that. We came here to say this and we came to stay and we did not just come to perform once at the basement, but also at the attic and the foundation and the festival and we will perform this work because this work has not been performed in the last five hundred years’. 

Ioanna: However, what you are saying, Prodromos, has to do with alternative narratives, it has nothing to do with the avant-garde. 

Prodromos: This is how I translate avant-garde.

Ioanna: I understand what you are saying, but I have an image in my mind and I think that at the moment we see performances that are full of new media, meta new media, algorithms and it goes on and on, etc., something that does not necessarily make it an avant-garde spectacle. I mean, I think it has more to do with the attitude of the artist. The artist’s solitary attitude towards an entire system, about this artist’s solitary existence that essentially opposes the system in this way, rather than by what means this artist uses or the alternative narratives.

Grigoris: You know what? I think that is exactly why these terms are ill-advised. These terms, which are from the beginning of the 20th century, are all a bit outdated. I mean, pioneering, avant-garde, means nothing to me. I can understand the question posed by Giorgos, what we are discussing as progressive. I understand it better, I can discuss it better.

Prodromos: I also agree with Grigoris on this. 

Grigoris: Otherwise it’s very vague to me. And you are right in what you said, Io, that I may have a progressive theme, but I may be very conservative in my form or vice versa. Is this a problem? Of course, it is a problem. For me, these three issues exist, the content, the form, and the way of producing a work, which I would like to be as progressive as possible. 

Prodromos: This is very nice, what Grigoris says, because we have talked about alternative content, narrative or whatever, we have talked about form, robots and such and now he talks about the way of production and the way we work, we cooperate to produce a work of art. And quite by chance, I have here in front of me an article by Savvas Partsalidis who writes, very briefly, this: ‘Not a few young people look for more loose hierarchies, turning their backs mostly to the realistic and urban theatre of the 19th century, when it had begun to operate according to the logic and standards of an industrial unit, with the workers-actors, the boss-director, the owner of the play’s truth-writer and the producer-investor owner of everything3http://savaspatsalidis.blogspot.com/2020/12/20_26.html‘. I feel that we are slowly moving away from this model and his observation that this has to do with the advent of capitalism in western societies, let’s say, is not wrong.

Grigoris: Of course this observation is correct. I mean the time when the urban theatre came into being and the content that it had, the form that it had, the audience that it had, have to do with the time in which it was invented, of course, the fact that the director of each theatre stage is appointed by the local prefect, City Council, whatever and is a kind of feudal lord in theatre, artistic director- the absolute lord, is a feudal structure.

Prodromos: And patriarchal, allow me to say. 

Grigoris: Yes, of course. But theatre has remained that way because it is to some extent a conservative mode of production and theatrical structures are conservative. I think we are a fairly conservative art in general, concerning our subjects, our forms, the audience we aim at, we have a lot of conservative residues, I mean traditional which also makes them conservative. We do not dispute their origin, that’s what I mean by conservative. 

Io: Now that we have opened the topic of form, content, way of production, I think that for me pioneering could be, and in a way, it can include everything we said, a work of art that does not follow the path that the rest of life around me follows. For me, pioneering today could be a work of art that has the power of a parable, which will not tell me anything in an obvious way. I am saying something about myself that is very essential. Where does it lie, what I’m now saying? It can be about everything, it can be about the form and the intention and the narrative and its content and the way it was produced, but it is also about something else. In the intention of the creators who met to do this and there is no other space for this to be done in this era, but it can only be done in this specific space and this specific rehearsal and in what will be created in the rehearsal. I mean, that is what I call pioneering, this space where what we do cannot happen somewhere else and it comes in contrast to our surroundings. 

Giorgos: I find this interesting because we started with terms of form but we concluded that it is about the content in the end. What we could call avant-garde is now just the content. Whether it is an opposition, let’s say a dominant narrative, or a parable concerning what we live. 

We started with terms of form but we concluded that it is about the content in the end. What we could call avant-garde is now just the content. Whether it is an opposition, let’s say a dominant narrative, or a parable concerning what we live. 

Time

Grigoris: Wasn’t it always like that? I don’t know why but I will insist a little. The interesting thing is that there is unanimity on what was once groundbreaking, which is very dangerous. I mean, history is written by the winners. Shortly after the Russian Revolution, there was the documentary novel. It no longer exists and if someone does it today, it will be said to be pioneering. This was defeated, lost, I mean crushed, it did not lead to any current, there is no heir. 

Prodromos: So as if to say, Grigoris, that pioneering is basically what will become mainstream a generation later.

Grigoris: Yes, I mean, what we call pioneering now, is because it became mainstream afterwards. 

Io: We return to the beginning of the conversation that nowadays you become mainstream in a week and a new page has been turned already. 

Giorgos: But, Io, this is the need of the market. We love the new as a society, that is, the new artist…

Io: I’m really not sure. It may be what you say, but there is too much… I don’t know, guys, but don’t you feel that there is too much noise? Too much noise. I mean, today, as a creator, in order to be able to listen to yourself and what you want to do, and to go somewhere and dig into doing it, you must be the fool of the village. I recently read an old interview with Aris Retsos. Guys, I have never seen a performance of this man, I don’t know what he is. I don’t say that in a good or a bad way, what he said about time killed me. How can I put it, I went crazy.

Giorgos: This interview is impressive. 

Io: Did you read it?

Giorgos: The one in popaganda4https://popaganda.gr/art/aris-retsos-inteview/. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in the last two or three years. 

Io: Me too. 

Giorgos: Concerning what Io said, the concept of time, in the market we experience, crushes a lot of personal efforts.

Io: And the worst thing for me is that it not only crushes the efforts but slowly it is very easy to crush your own faith in it.

Giorgos: Perhaps the most groundbreaking thing, concerning the content, that somebody can produce at this moment, is to oppose this acceleration, which makes absolutely no sense to any of us.

Io: Exactly. I believe very much in what you said now, that is why I brought the example of Retsos, because for me this is pioneering today, to resist this frantic pace.

Giorgos: Which, however, is not an innovation of the form, Io, it is an intellectual innovation, something like a statement.

Io: It is a spiritual attitude, it is a state. 

Prodromos: It’s a way of life, guys. 

Grigoris: While I agree with you that we live in an era of unbridled acceleration, that you have to produce and produce, etc. at the same time, I would do the opposite in theatre. I mean, while I admire Vasiliev who says, ‘I did 12 years of research for a performance’ or Aris Retsos, I would like, if I could, to do what Meyerhold did, 235 premieres in one year, which is a world record. He premiered every other day, for a year, I envy that. We will do it with one and a half rehearsals!

George: Okay, this is punk. 

Prodromos: Okay, this is nice and indicative. Discussing, say, the avant-garde in Greece with many quotes, you know the name of Aris Retsos often comes and goes in our discussions and he is a man who does not participate in what is imposed by society, the acceleration that Giorgos describes, he doesn’t have a Facebook account, he doesn’t have an Instagram account, he doesn’t have a Twitter account I imagine, I don’t know I haven’t looked for it, but I have come across it. But for me, who has seen thousands of performances in Greece, he has made the most beautiful performance I have ever seen here. He has made The Backgammon by Kechaidis, a text that if it falls into the wrong hands and usually it does, it can become a blooming ethnography, a melodramatic performance that you can’t bear to watch. In the hands of Aris Retsos, through the form, he used, of course, a mirror of Greek society.

Ioanna: Don’t you think that the artists we embrace as pioneers said their goodbyes early? Either they died early or they disappeared from us.

Giorgos: The matter is not whether your loved ones are dead, the matter is that you once loved them. It is interesting to have some people that you have loved, you have loved their work and in some way they influence you. It also seems to me like a continuation of things. In terms of dramaturgy though, why didn’t the question of time ever appear in these 1800 performances that we used to watch every year? What exactly is happening with time right now in our lives?

Grigoris: Because it is not only the ideas, it is also the position of the individual, but this is not only content. This, if you are good at your job as an artist, is appealing, it is also a view. It is both form and view, it is the way you made it, the way you produced it. I mean, all these are the view. 

Giorgos: The concept of time does not exist in terms of dramaturgy. The return to a time that carries a human scale, for example. Because we have been living on a non-human scale for a very long time. There are artists in Europe at the moment, working as festival darlings. Suddenly, the dramaturgy that currently exists in European theatre is a bit boring, or does it seem to me?

Prodromos: I don’t know about the European theatre, about the Greek one I can discuss whether it is boring, whether it is conservative and whether it goes back to the past.

Survival

Giorgos: In an old interview with Nam June Paik5Nam June Paik worked with many media and is one of the founders of video art. He wrote music, broke televisions, put goldfish in televisions, cut John Cage’s clothes with scissors at a concert and threw shampoo at his hair. He had taken television, which was the ultimate pop object, and started using it as a work of art., and while the journalist was praising him saying that his work is ‘the triumph of humanism over technology’… ‘a comment on the passivity of spectators’… ‘an electroshock to the dead body of art’, Nam June Paik replied: ‘It is at the same time the way of a poor child to make a living’.

Grigoris: The same thing happened in the first work written by Bertolt Brecht. He took it to Lion Feuchtwanger, a well-known writer of the time, Brecht then young, gives him the work and says: ‘Please, Mr. Feuchtwanger, read it, if you want’. Feuchtwanger reads it and is shocked… ‘How did this idea come to you? How did you think of all this?’ The play was Drums in the Night and Brecht replies: “Look, I just want something to pay my rent. I do not want anything more.’

Giorgos: Avant-garde also has a sense of necessity, doesn’t it? The way you put it. Do you think there is an avant-garde scene in Greece at the moment?

Grigoris: I don’t know because the problem is that things move according to market terms. Do you know how many press releases we have seen that say: ‘that subversive artist’? It’s now an advertisement and there is a huge danger for someone to be consumed in it. 

Giorgos: Nevertheless, apart from the standardizations of the market, have you as a spectator seen things in Europe, or even here in Greece, which you believe that in terms of narrative, form, or with their methodology lead things a little further? We are always talking about a market that loves the new.

Grigoris: Yes, of course, and with that, people have been destroyed along the way, the first five, ten years of their career they were the new and then came the next new and they were forgotten. I have experience from performances that I saw and it was for me something new or something very moving or something unexpected. I don’t know if that makes them avant-garde. At that moment, it was for me something I have never seen before or something that moved me without expecting it… This can also happen, you know. It opens up a possibility for you, something you see that you had not thought of. Yes, fortunately, I have seen such performances.

Giorgos: The term avant-garde could be a term that doesn’t explain things anymore. I say that because maybe it was explaining the attempts of an older generation of artists to express themselves and maybe it doesn’t express our generation anymore, whatever that means.

Past-Rebellion

Manolis: I wanted to ask you something: Is it an outdated definition or is it a classic definition that afterwards maintains timelessness?

Giorgos: Yes, that’s a nice question. I think the definitions come out to describe something that was happening at the time. When you still use the definition to describe something that happens seventy years later, you may need to change it. Surely, artists hand things over to other artists, even unwittingly. People have influences, some things they love, they love the things that have influenced them, and this exists in their work. 

Manolis: I think the avant-garde arose when the artist decided to kill God and the state. When they decided to kill God and the state, they started thinking politically, so they started thinking in a way outside of a specific square, let’s say… The academy of the time- because at the time the term avant-garde started, the term academia has already started to be used – created data that was not only academic but also social, which everyone followed with a religiosity. So the Avant-Garde came from people who lost their religiosity, lost their social background, and said: ‘very well, now we’re going to do something…’.

Grigoris: That’s nice because, as you describe it, Manolis, the opposition to God and then to the state is exactly what Albert Camus describes as the definition of rebellion. It is the rebellion first against God symbolically and practically, and then against the state. This is true in a way, I mean, I think that the works of art that I like have a revolt in them, it is an act of revolt.

Manolis: The avant-garde, basically, was identified with the fall of the aristocracy. Suddenly we have an aristocracy that turns into a state and we have artists who are now from classes that did not have access to funding, demands from the ruling class, who can now express themselves freely and even be heard, because the avant-garde was moving in parallel with the Industrial Revolution, It is no coincidence that we have another class participating in things, which is slowly gaining market power, does not have the entanglements of aristocracy or a feudal situation, which is slowly over. These are all things that no longer concern us, but perhaps freedom of thought concerns us. Greece, concerning the freedom of the press, comes last third to last in Europe. So, we do not have freedom of thought. So, if we do not have free thought and someone expresses himself in a free way, can this person belong to the avant-garde of Greece? 

Ioanna: I could say something from the heart about how I perceive an avant-garde project. If either the artist or their work is dominated by many, no. By many denials, denial to join a form, denial to join funding, denial to join a market system, denial to do what other people did. 

Manolis: These are different denials though. 

Ioanna: Different. 

Manolis: If you have denied everything you are safe to express an opinion.

Ioanna: I don’t know if you are safe or if you take a risk. 

Manolis: …You say no to everything. If you say no to everything you are safe to say whatever you want, you are clued up. Because those who always say no, are clued up because they don’t…

Giorgos: Maybe right now the scandal is that you are not decorative in a world that is flooded by visual culture. How can you remain groundbreaking, I mean carry the rebellious character of art, either formally or in terms of content. Maybe the revolution at the moment is not one of form but one of content. Maybe avant-garde right now is to succeed… your work not to be inclined to decoration.

Manolis: Avant-garde is a decoration now as well… you are bought by an audience that pays a ticket, or you are bought by an institution that gets it cheaper than someone else abroad, or you are bought by a YouΤube channel, or you are bought by your temperament. It’s a gem, simply the difference with the past is that the socio-political conditions are very different now because then you were against a system which was the result of the feudal system which was ending and the aristocracy was ending, the feudalism, etc. and it was slowly becoming a state. So, you were basically trying to oppose a state structure that had its principles in the aristocracy, while now there are too many principles that you oppose. It is not one, it is not two, it is the state, which is actually you, so you oppose yourself because you see yourself in the public structure, it is politics, it is religion, it is globalization, it is the neighbour’s state which has become your state because of globalization, it is the world that has become your world because of globalization, and it affects you as history affects you. If some people in Indonesia died from a tsunami in the 1930s, we would find out after 5 months and say ‘Poor people’. Now we all cried together because we saw it the same day. So, I don’t know if what you’re saying is true. 

Technology again

Giorgos: In this fragmented world we live in. Yes, I don’t know what’s true. 

Manolis: We don’t live in one world, we live in many worlds. They are all worlds, we just have the opportunity to live in all these worlds in parallel, really in parallel and this is perhaps the most important and awesome thing of our time. We are in a transitional era. Maybe from now on we should look at avant-garde as the transition from the material world to the intangible world, because now we can still define it. In a little while, we will not be able to, because we will talk to our avatars… What more avant-garde than that?

Giorgos: But, now you are not talking about a new spiritual or political adventure. You are simply talking about a new technological adventure, which we will all have to experience together. 

Manolis: Artificial Intelligence is a technological adventure. However, the stages that follow always go beyond birth, as in our birth, which was natural, but the stages that followed went beyond birth. So, after birth, whatever this birth is, natural or technical, evolution cannot be determined…

Giorgos: The difference is that so far no consciousness can think outside the body. This is also defined by various neurobiologists, various scientists who discuss A.I.

Manolis: You are absolutely right.

Giorgos: So far we have a machine that thinks, that can produce sentences that make sense. 

Manolis: But you forget one factor: the recipient factor. The recipient who is a human being, to what extent can determine if this is a machine or not? So, what the scientist says is refuted, because from the moment I believe that the machine tells me the truth, then the truth is what the machine tells me and that is how the human ends. What could be more avant-garde than that?

 

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