In its early 20th Century iteration, the manifesto is a public declaration of aesthetic principles describing the current or prospective practice of a group or individual. In line with the nominal metaphor of the Avant-Garde, the manifestos of Modernism tend to be militant, or at least faux-militant, in tone—characterized by a sense of theatricality and crisis that is as entertaining as it is suspect and subject to critique. These texts received their energy from a fusion of political and aesthetic concerns (the aestheticization of the political or the politicization of the aesthetic) often matched with a lexical, even typographical, ebullience. It is the interdisciplinary nature of such documents—the way they serve a critical as well as creative function, assuming an active role in the world while standing nonetheless, as conceptual art objects, apart from it—that makes them so fascinating and so complex.
For its inaugural project, Concrete Utopia is issuing a call for manifestos. The intention is to collect, into one, extended space, a range of artifacts, art objects, performances, and performative records which by their broad association with the history of the manifesto reflect upon the genre and its viability today. In bringing together a configuration of conceptual vectors traditionally defined by independence and opposition, this exhibition sheds light on the rhetorical value of manifestary expression, transforming a microcosmic art environment into an arena for absurdity and play.
text by Andrew Gorin