REVOLUTIONJanuary 10, 2021
The Exploding Appendix Dossier #1.0: REVOLUTION*ART*MANIFESTOJanuary 10, 2021
“Exploding Appendix is a book whose sacred heart has been ripped out, and finds itself growing, eternally, as a series of fragmented, incohesive appendices. Deprived of a singular unified core, its pages spew in multiple indeterminate directions, growing in number, pressing, with increasing force against the binding that should keep them in place, as if, at any moment, the book could explode and a flurry of pages scatter through the air.”
“Our aim is to build an open-ended dialogue; a discursive interplay in the ongoing mutations of a communal experimentation that aspires towards transformative ideals. We demand a renewed commitment to a love of life and a radical aspiration in every faction of it, yet we have no eternal manifesto. Instead we offer mere rehearsals. Meagre drafts, compiled as an unfinished edifice. A mere tangential blog posing as a new ‘Lutheranism’. Yet this bombastic posturing reveals our driving ideals: We are descendants of Gutenberg. Ours is the radical pamphlet; the incendiary manifesto. We will not sit quietly, but instead nail our meager drafts to all the sanctified ‘churches’ of our modern world.”
“Appendicitis. An abnormal condition of the superfluous that makes it potentially dangerous. The appendix (be that a bodily organ, a collection of disparate notes at the tail end of a book, or any activity with no obvious utilitarian function), is transformed into something subversive: a threat to the overall body politic.”
Unpublished Entry for Encyclopaedia Appendicitis
Exploding Appendix is a neo-avant-gardist movement that draws upon the history of avant-garde art and radical counter-culture in order to respond to the time we live in. We resist the urge to hold to any particular cultural movement or artistic process with fetishistic devotion. We seek to honour the past by ruthlessly critiquing it, and radically departing from it, all the while drawing upon it. A number of avenues enable us to explore and develop this. Our fortnightly meetings, our artistic projects, our encyclopaedia project (forthcoming), and our dossiers each attempt to both draw upon the history of the avant-garde, whilst adapting it for a very different age. This dossier, therefore, grows up amongst an array of projects, and in part, might be seen as a regular report uniting numerous strands of Exploding Appendix as a whole.
In our Second Rehearsal for an Exploding Appendix Manifesto we unveiled ten research units each dedicated to the thorough investigation necessary for the development of our own manifesto (The Avant-garde Art Research Unit, The Subversive Rationalisms Research Unit, The Individual and Freedom Research Unit, The Common Treasury Research Unit, The Democracy and Participation Research Unit, The Utopia Research Unit, The Technology and Futurism Research Unit, The Strategy and Tactics Research Unit, The Liberation and Emancipatory Struggle Research Unit, The Religion and Revelry Research Unit). This issue of the Dossier was compiled with the support of the Avant-garde Art Research Unit, and is a preliminary exploration of the avant-garde. In this respect, this document could be seen as asking the question ‘what is the avant-garde?’ and, maybe more importantly, ‘what should it be today?’
To answer the first question, we believe it is necessary to confront three elements that could be said to form the bedrock of the historical avant-garde. These three elements are REVOLUTION*ART*MANIFESTO.
Exploding Appendix would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all contributors, both those whose works appear in the dossier, and those whose work does not feature in this particular dossier. We hope artists and writers in both camps will consider submitting to future Dossiers, or meeting with us some Tuesday in the not too distant future to discuss whatever is on deck that week. Collectively, we were flattered by the quality of response and truly energised at the project being so well-understood; also, somewhat relieved the call did not fall upon deaf ears! Each response prompted enthusiastic discussion, so once again, thank you for treating us to the fruits of your imagination. The diversity of submission was befitting of Exploding Appendix as a project, reflecting the diversity of the crowds attending our fortnightly meetings. While each stands alone without need for contextualisation or verbose fanfare, we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to comment briefly on the works as they appear, chronologically… forgive us of any self-indulgence. The aim is to provide a fleeting taste, to prick up ears etc.
The Dossier begins with an introduction to each of the three topics by The Avant-garde Art Research Unit: Revolution, Art, and Manifesto. This is followed by an interview of Exploding Appendix founder Bradley Tuck, by myself Max McNally and Harvey Barrett. Bradley provides a brief account of the project as a whole, for curious parties who may be first coming into contact with EA, and collaborators who might be interested in getting to grips with its history. The themes of the Dossier are addressed, alongside the usual tangential meandering that EA –often– manages to harness as a strength.
Bradley’s Third Rehearsal For An Exploding Appendix Manifesto focuses on coining and populating the term: APPENDISM. Any strict and tyrannical definition is rejected; APPENDISM becomes instead a sort of act of play: a process. It is a Sign that self-immolates through rejecting the fossilisation that is assignation. As much as APPENDISM here looks to encapsulate the pre-conditions, active process, and consequential affects of communal education and artistic collaboration, it enthusiastically sabotages this project in the very same movement; it’s discursive and in motion, not a proscriptive pedagogical methodology, nor a reification. It’s in this that the Third Rehearsal celebrates its schizoid-self, embracing APPENDISM as “fragmented, contradictory, but always incendiary” and not the traditional manifesto of the ideologue, who wishes for warm bodies for direction and not for critical conversation or elaboration.
The idea of “rehearsing toward” is a fascinating one that warrants further discussion. But, at least to my mind, it would be a mistake to ever read the Rehearsals as “draft” attempts that will result in a “finished product”. Any embodied concept of fixed personal identity is the false consciousness of an eternal rehearsal, and distinctly not a reified object that can be (safely) finalised and locked in place; in the very same sense, EA is the rehearsal – it is a rehearsal for a play that will never be staged: for staging is finality and an end, in both senses of the word. The rehearsals reflect, poetically, where EA is at any given time. Rather than set down roots and commit to doctrine, EA embodies effervescence and rejects stratification. This results in two seemingly contradictory phenomenon: the rehearsals become artefacts reflecting a communal process of thought and exploration, while constituting a VERY MUCH ALIVE biological entity which at any time threatens to discharge its next contribution.
This refusal to instrumentalise or functionally reduce a living, collective aesthetic and educational project via abuse of the manifesto is the subject of the essay that follows, a fairly fast-and-loose meditation upon the proverbial clash of heads that occurred between French dramaturge Antonin Artaud and Surrealist lynchpin André Breton. Likewise, any reduction to “mere fleshy materiel to be exploited and discarded” is rejected in Guard Dog Records Collective’s contribution: The Spiritual Battle Ground of Musical Practice. At times recalling Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” in its diagnostic approach to contemporary culture’s most disheartening phenomena, the piece differs in its combative air; it is the manifesto as call-to-arms. If we often wallow in “the shallow, illusory happiness of the cessation of pain” in a world from which there is “no real escape” and in which “[e]very aspect of life is geared toward our subjugation”, the forging of an artistic community – such as Guard Dog Records – in which critique and the suggestion of alternate social and cultural realities are preferred, becomes an urgent task… a necessary task. It passionately argues against disengagement, against giving into “atomization” and against the separation of aesthetic and political realms. The term “Spiritual Battleground” is the existent site of collaboration in virtual spaces, and not a hyperbolic allusion to an internal struggle, as in its common usage; this is a cry out against the stoic impulse. And on the most basic, but important of levels – the artists it introduces are all well worth a listen.
Continuing on we feature an interview with Pollita Mijao, a multi-media artist and activist whose “I am not an artist” – featured in the body of the interview – was one of the first things we received; considering the burning relevancy of the theme to our subject matters, a conversation with the creator seemed essential. Luckily, she obliged. The resulting conversation – interspersed with video and visual art pieces such as ‘Synaesthesia’ and ‘Zen for the Apocalypse: A Guided meditation’ – doesn’t disappoint. She outlines her creative process and her understanding of the relationship between art praxis and activism, and hints at upcoming work we’re eagerly anticipating. Mijao’s work is full of revolutionary fervour, aimed not just toward political paradigms, but anthropocentrism, the post-enlightenment cultural hangover, and numerous inter-relating pathological concerns.
A dizzying amalgamation of illustration, photography, theory fiction, calls to action and aesthetic meditations – so much tumbles out of oobROY’s first issue of The Smash Glassed Manifestoes (titled “Towards a Rebirth in the Arts & Culture of the 21st Century”) that the myth of Pandora’s Box comes to mind… it’s difficult to really be prepared for the gleefully anarchic ideas and concepts that come spilling forth. Contributors Avant Kinema, Orphine and Shard Azure effortlessly flit between raucous humour, grand declarations of artistic intent, provocative and physical descriptors and the like. It rewards a couple of reads, and the memorable words and images that bombard you from first page to last certainly deserve as much.
Federico De Cicco stirring works “Libertas”, “Xwedayê Bedewiyê” & “The Amazon Burning” follow, with gracious elaborations from the artist himself. Subject matters differ, from the importance of ecological conservation, to memorial and allegory. Yet a common thread links the images: a profound empathy, for world, the particular individual engaged in socio-political praxis, and the human spirit. Here is revolution encapsulated in a tripartite form: new hopes for the natural world, isolated individual and, broadly, the very concept of species-being, all on one page.
Dr. Scary (Michael E. Skyer) and Mr. Gory (Gregory Fedorchuk) proceed to take us into the realm of the Weird and the Eerie, unifying image and text in “Amphibionic” – conjuring writers such as Thomas Ligotti and artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński in their juxtaposition of the synthetic and the organic to uncanny affect. Their introductory letter looks to contextualise their submissions, which the purely textual and menacing “Unwritten History of Present” rounds out, linking their formation of a stylised gothic, kitsch aesthetic, with the development of their political thinking – the seedlings of a manifesto proper.
Next, a scene in which ceaseless attempts to posit the self in time, when time has seemingly ground to a halt, sees discrete references and recollections threaten to overwhelm the subject. Candidly autobiographical, Glasgow-based artist Lucie McLaughlin’s work is a feat of self-analysis that is extremely timely; many of us have tried, and failed, to find effective alternatives to our favoured distractions – distractions from the relentless immediacy of our domestic environs – due to the COVID crisis under whose influence the Dossier was forged. Proclamations, demands and new formal frameworks are one thing, but what of our immediate experience as individuals, when the world undergoes such a dramatic shift – when we find ourselves alone in a room where revolution in its secondary sense, “an instance of revolving”, seems to have become a distant and alien concept? Where we are stuck in time, ossifying despite our artistic or critical endeavours? In exploring the phenomenal aspects of time and space and their affects upon both the creative and critical process, Everything Rests On A Tablecloth with Lemons blurs the line between diary, essay and poetry, and may even prove cathartic, considering the ready-availability of similar experiences we can draw upon as reader-watcher. Video pieces “Photograph” and “Batwing” serve as complementing artefacts, capturing the everyday items that we find ourselves surrounded with, its ambient ASMR-esque soundscapes and fixation upon the intricacies of everyday shapes and objects becoming the background humming of being itself. Its rhizomatic structure makes the accompanying bibliography of essential importance.
EA founder Bradley Tuck’s final contribution (in order of presentation) to the Dossier is a mixture of auto-biographical writing and theoretical meditation upon the concept of Rhythm Analysis. It both explores Henri Lefebvre’s original formulation, and describes an on-going project staged on Brighton’s beaches, in the hills surrounding the city, and all other manners of locations, a project that puts Rhythm Analysis into praxis. Detours are taken through thinkers as diverse as John Zorn, Guy Debord, Karl Marx, and oft-present favourite Bogdanov. The end result – punctuated by the dramatic photography of Lucy Le Brocq, who chronicles the aforementioned beach front meeting of EA’s Rhythmanalysts – is a piece that can be approached by a complete newcomer to Lefebvre, as much as a specialist looking for contemporary applications of his work, chocked full of free-associations and theoretical by-ways.
An air of irreverence – that will prove either refreshing or insufferable – surrounds the next piece, a piece of flash meta-fiction born spontaneously one September evening. It contains some genuine, personal concerns surrounding the manifesto format, and cursorily explores the character of a fictive tenured academic, who recalls John Kennedy’s Toole’s Ignatius – a personal favourite and influence. It is accompanied by an illustration from Croydon-based illustrator, musician, writer and friend Wazid Abdul. My deepest thanks for his enthusiasm in collaboration.
Finishing up the Dossier with a note of sincerity and Romantic reflection is Harvey Barrett’s pensive I Stood Facing the Sea – a deeply poetic work that touches on the heavy burden of authorship, and the transience of history. What is remembered? What is forgotten? What washes up on shores, and what is laid waste upon them? “It is to the sea and what lies beyond its emptiness that I release this manifesto” it concludes, any apprehension containing the immanent seed of fateful excitement; and it is in a similar mood we now release this Dossier, into a parallel space no less turbulent, no less unfathomably vast, populated, labyrinthine or intimidating…
There’s nothing left to say beyond expressing our hope you’ll enjoy these works as much as we have collating them. With no further ado, Exploding Appendix presents Dossier 001, ART*REVOLUTION*MANIFESTO…
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