The Avant-Garde is Undesirable!
(Tract of the Situationist International)

1. The avant-garde of today, the one that does not repeat the fashionable mystifications, is socially repressed [that is, put down]. The movement that is desired by society is the one can it can buy: the pseudo-avant-garde.

2. To the creator of new values, present-day life appears as an illusion and as a fragment. If an avant-garde poses the question of the meaning of life and looks to realize its claims on this terrain, it sees itself separated from all social possibilities.

3. The aesthetic sub-products of the avant-garde, such as paintings, films, poems, etc., are immediately desired, but they are without effect. What is unacceptable is the programme of an entirely new formation of the conditions of life, which changes society to its base.

4. After having placed the aesthetically neutralized products of the avant-garde on the market, one now wants to dismember, dilute, push under a driveway its claims that see a realization in the global domain of life. In the name of the present and past avant-gardes, and all of the isolated and unsatisfied artists, we protest against this cultural pillaging and we call upon all the creative forces to boycott such discussions.

5. Modern culture is deprived of substance and disposes of no force that can really be opposed to the decisions of the avant-garde.

6. We who create the new values no longer combat the great cries of the guardians of culture, but relegate [ourselves] to specialized domains, and our claims are turned [away] in ridicule.

7. Artists must play the role of the buffoons of yore, paid by society, to give it the illusion of a certain cultural freedom.

8. Society, in its conceit, prescribes to the avant-garde a level that it must not leave if it wants to remain within the norms of what is socially accepted.

9. The existence of artists is the ferment of transformation in our decadent European culture, which is a decadence that one must not stop but, on the contrary, accelerate.

10. European culture is a old, sick and pregnant woman who is on the verge of death. Is it necessary to attempt to save the mother, even though it [her condition] is absolutely desperate -- or to let her child live? The conservateurs [conservatives and/or curators] want to save the mother -- and by killing the child. The avant-garde has decided: the mother must die so that the child can live!

11. The avant-garde of yesterday is proper. The artistic front of the Left is a problem of truth: "A truth dies at the end of ten years" (Ibsen).

12. Artists and intellectuals: support the situationist movement because it does not chase a utopia and it is the only movement that supercedes present-day culture.

13. The duty of the avant-garde is to impose its recognition, before its discipline and its programme are sweetened. This [imposition] is what the Situationist International wants to do.

Published by the Spur Group,
German section of the Situationist International
Sturm, Prem, Fischer, Kunzelmann, Zimmer

by the Scandanavian section
Steffan Larsson, Asger Jorn, Jorgen Nash, Katja Lindell

and by the Belgian section
Maurice Wyckaert

(Written in German, this declaration was distributed at a modernist exhibition at the Muenchener Kammerspiele [Munich Intimate Theatre], January 1961. Extract published in Internationale Situationniste #6 [August 1961], p. 39. Translated by NOT BORED! June 2005 from the French version published in Archives Situationnistes: Volume 1: Documents traduits 1958-1970.)

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