Unity

Unity or wholeness in art will always appear as the conservative choice. Take the politics out of it and it’s still bad because in my experience at least, reinforced every day in the studio, it is much much harder to break unity than to achieve it. One reason is that all art has a “literal” unity anyway, and that given, ready-made integrity encourages a deep psychological drive. Parts that don’t fit are irritating, and we can’t help but try to bring them into line. I feel it strongly, as strongly as I also feel that same demand as oppressive. Unity is a reflex, the repetition of what we already know. The reason for art is to not repeat—if I may put it in such an inelegant way. Even if we go along with Ehrenzweig and accept that no matter how hard we try to break things up unity will always appear retrospectively anyway, and that we’re going to have to live with it in the end, the real emphasis still has to be on the difficulty of getting even a temporary appearance of disunity. I challenge anyone to tell me that they find disunity an easy thing to achieve—because a real disunity cannot be just given, it has to be achieved. That the pay off for the viewer will be the satisfaction that it all resolves into a higher, unexpected new unity is depressing to say the least, and that’s the reason for the avant-garde.

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