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Abstract

This article opens with a discussion of contemporary avant-garde art, which according to many critics distinguishes itself by a turn to history, that is by a (seemingly paradoxical) backward-looking stance. Relativizing the ‘newness’ of this turn to history and the past in early twenty-first-century avant-garde art, the article then unearths the early twentieth-century avant-garde’s often neglected fascination with cultures that historically predate that of Europe. Zooming in on the historical avant-garde’s widespread interest in ancient Egypt in particular, the article highlights the “anarcheological impulse” that may well characterize the treatment of the (long-gone) past in all avant-garde exploits, be they early twentieth or twenty-first-century.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article situates the French dancer and choreographer of color Nyota Inyoka’s Egyptian-inspired work within the context of modern Orientalist Egyptomania and relates her to the avant-garde. Drawing out Inyoka’s ambiguous positionality the article not only demonstrates how Inyoka’s work disrupted the phenomenon of Egyptomania, most notably in her performance Prière aux dieux solaires (Prayer to the Sun Gods) (1921), but also unearths the ways in which her work, as it performed ‘ancient Egypt,’ deserves to be held alongside related and more canonized avant-garde practices.

Open Access
In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article examines Hedwig Fechheimer’s 1914 Die Plastik der Aegypter (Egyptian Sculpture) and Tristan Tzara and Étienne Sved’s 1954 collaborative book L’Égypte face à face (Egypt Face to Face) and how, bookending the classical European avant-garde period, both took recourse to ancient Egypt to explain their present moment. While Fechheimer approaches Egyptian artwork via a nascent Cubism, Tzara and Sved reflect on ancient Egypt through nostalgic, Dada-tinted lenses. The presents of Fechheimer, Tzara, and Sved were rife with anti-Semitism and conflict; while Fechheimer avoids politics entirely Tzara and Sved do have a poignantly political purpose. In both cases time is folded, challenging teleological conceptions of historicity.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article deals with the building of an avant-garde identity in a peripheral European country by returning to a mythical past placed in Egypt. It focuses on the main promoter of Futurism in Portugal, Almada Negreiros, and on how his African roots played a part in the splitting of the self, a phenomenon that at the time was discussed widely in Fernando Pessoa’s circle and which Pessoa himself so dramatically put into practice with the creation of heteronymous identities. It demonstrates how Almada’s heritage was at once an instrument to perform Otherness—that is, a means to construct an identity as civilisation’s Other—and a gateway to accessing the creative origin of all selves through the connecting cipher of ancient Egypt.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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Abstract

Cinematic elements inform the aesthetic innovation of interwar American artists Aaron Douglas and Charles Dawson, particularly in the interplay between ancient Egyptian resources and modern visual expression. Cinema had developed an Egypthood, a set of concepts tying its picture-writing (hieroglyphics) to notions of preserving and reorganizing time (mummies) and an eloquence in compressing volume into surfaces (bas relief). Reaching for the pharaohs belonged within an urgent cultural politics, a campaign for beauty and regeneration against white supremacy. Cinema spoke to artists engaged with organizing eras across a flat surface. Through their compact spaces, and sometimes translucent historical jumps, Dawson and Douglas draw the Nile past forward in what Schomburg would call the use of the “reclaimed background.” Their complex rosters of spatial compression produce the aesthetic shock of historical compression, within a wider effort to transform and break open the Nile’s anchorage in the temporarily and culturally remote.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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Abstract

In 1927, Michel Leiris embarked upon a five-month trip to Egypt and Greece. His text Aurora (1927–1928; pub. 1946), commenced during this journey, combines Surrealist approaches with fictional and documentary elements in an investigation of the ontological limits of the writing self. In Aurora, Surrealist automatism and elements of autobiography become epistemological demonstrations of being alive and facing the threat of impending death. Aurora experiments with thanatography, a written account of the death of the self. References to ancient Egyptian necropolis building and hieroglyphics inflect Surrealist automatism with a notion of the self as split between the living voice, death, and the multiplication of consciousness.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article deals with Sibylla Schwarz’ poetic confrontation with the literary authority of the early 17th century par excellence. In Martin Opitz, she not only found a model to follow, but also a point of orientation for her own approach to writing, which is why she productively transforms his material and texts, but develops her own forms and arguments in this imitation. She repeatedly addresses him explicitly as an ally in matters of poetry and the implementation of poetic guidelines, who, like herself, had to overcome resistance. Both his texts and his personality are appreciated in this context and integrated into her own writing. In doing so, she follows Opitz in a strategy propagated by himself and thus continues it.

In: Daphnis
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In: Daphnis
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Abstract

The night plays an important role in Sibylla Schwarz’ self-presentation as a female poet. On the one hand, she expresses her poetic skills by using the night as a literary motif which she combines with metaphors of farewell and death. On the other hand, she presents the night as the time and place of the creation of her poetry, thereby marking it as a secondary activity accepted within the gender discourse of early modern culture. Schwarz’ use of the motif of the night vividly illustrates the interplay of convention, strategy and lifeworld reference that is characteristic of her poetry.

In: Daphnis