What are tomorrow's avant-garde monuments
October 2, 2007 4:20 PM   Subscribe

What are tomorrow's avant-garde art/film/writing monuments that are being done today?

What are the contemporary avant-garde works that will be regarded as classics in twenty years? What are the works being done right now, or in the last couple of years, that everyone will know in twenty years, but that few know about today? I'm talking about works in literature, film, music; things like Einstein on the Beach, Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle, Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, the art and sculpture of Bruce Naumann, James Joyce's Ulysses, the films of Ernie Gehr and Stan Brakhage, etc.

(I realize that it requires a large element of conjecture to answer this question, but I think that people "in the know" often have a pretty good idea what works of art will eventually be widely known.)
posted by jayder to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mulholland Drive
posted by milarepa at 4:25 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: You're right about the wildly speculative nature of the answers you'll get, but what the hell; I'll give it a shot. Shelley Jackson has been doing some fascinating literary things in various old and new media (such as Skin and Patchwork Girl). She's amassing a reputation that might make her quite a name to be reckoned with eventually.

Or not! After all, IANAPersonInTheKnow.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:47 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: Some of these are really old. Some of them are more contemporary, and I don't believe any of it could be called 'up and coming,' and many are already classics, but I always like to peruse UbuWeb Film & Video
posted by allthingsfixable at 5:03 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tribulation 99
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:40 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: Naked Punch magazine is pretty good... but they're only putting out 2 volumes a year at a hefty $15 a volume.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 7:05 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: Excellent question, especially if you are not necessarily looking in traditionnal media. I am thinking Duchamp's Fontaine kind of paradigm shifting. Different people are looking in different directions, but here are some areas where I feel the ground is shaking.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude did something interesting with The Gates at Central Park: a work of art that could only exist within an interaction with thousands of ordinary people. I think it's more iconic in that sense than for its aesthetic value. The timing was great too because people far away from the work experienced it (participated in it) through thousands of photos and videos and parodies and forums on the Web. It's social art, where there is not an art producer and art consumers but a collaboration between artists and participants to become a work of art.

Architecture seems sometimes to be the major art of our time and, similarly, I don't think it's only for its sculpture-like values, but because it creates structures where people meet, live and interact.

In the same sense, something like MetaFilter could certainly be considered as a new form of artwork: a structure built to allow people to meet, exchange and interact and, so doing, producing a mood, a state of spirit and mind, a kind of buzz, a sort of beauty.

Another area where the ground is shifting is street art, like Banksy's for example. Several rules are also broken here: the medium can't be bought, the works have a relative short life (extended by pictures on the Web but most street art is short lived), the medium is collective (walls along streets) and anybody can paint something over it. Maybe you won't but you could. That's new.

All these samples have a few points in common: they involve people and interactions between people and they change over time. Maybe art is becoming alive.
posted by bru at 8:00 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: Mark Danielewski has published a couple of experimental novels that might fit the bill - most famous is House of Leaves; weirder is Only Revolutions.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: I was thinking of Danielewski too. My money is on Damien Hirst for his dead animals in boxes (if they last), but I sincerely hope Matthew Barney and his gonad musicals won't make it into art history texts as classics of the late 20th/early 21st century

Maybe if we are lucky those french robot bastards will achieve some modicum of critical praise in the future.
posted by Large Marge at 8:58 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: A lot of the most current music is happening on labels like Doubtmusic, Hibari, Erstwhile, Grob, Cathnor, Absurd, and EMR. This stuff is already making some waves and having influence.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:04 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: What if you expanded things to include video game works. I think looking back on this time in 30 years we will think very highly on how some of the software brought people together and told stories in a new and fresh way as well as let people participate in and shape those stories.
posted by mmascolino at 10:34 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: By the standards of 25 years ago, there is nothing that few people presently know about, that will be widely known in the future, because everything of any value whatsoever is widely disseminated on the web. Things that were "cultish" but became classics in the past did so because they had limited initial distrubution. Damien Hirst and Daft Punk are already blockbusters of their genres.
posted by roofus at 5:23 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: http://fc2.org/
posted by mizrachi at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: I absolutely agree with you roofus
posted by Large Marge at 9:22 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: Okay, I'll throw some more out there. First, I agree about Danielewski.

I dunno how eternal a canon you have in mind, but if Daft Punk is in, then I argue for the following in music:

Joanna Newsom
Nerdcore as a movement, specific luminaries tbd.

For film, as someone just a little more In-The-Know than most by educational means, I can say that there's really a pretty good continued academic reaction to new avant-garde (or since this is a rather charged term, let us say landmark), works. The ones I can think of are not exactly from this year, but are certainly "contemporary classics," though that in no way means they'll ever be "widely known". Reassemblage? 25 years old, and still not exactly a cult classic. Being In-The-Know makes it harder to come up with films or pieces that fit both your criteria for me. Avant-garde != Everyone will eventually know about/like it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: Possibly not as highbrow as you're after, but check out the "art collective" PFFR, especially their Wonder Showzen project, which in my opinion is the single most beautiful thing ever broadcast on TV.
posted by contraption at 10:17 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: Children of Men. From a moviemaking standpoint they did some pretty groundbreaking stuff.
posted by doppleradar at 11:05 AM on October 3, 2007

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