Savages of a New Avant-Garde

12/11/2022 • 5 min • meaningless fiction

“Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.”

—Italo Calvino

Proving that the least humored, can be humorous, they named themselves after a German word, one meaning “Avant-Garde” in the military sense, and one which also happens to be one letter removed from meaning “foreskin”. They were Vorhut, an pseudonymous artist collective with the honorable goal being to be as far removed from the economic system known as “The Fine Arts” as possible, or for that matter, its distant cousin, illustration, and any D word (besides the vulgar childish connotation).

Ironically, it was this notoriety that made their artwork even more enticing to collect amongst the wealthy, and something they even had to fight over the years, by methods ranging from theft and destruction to ludicrous ones such as manufacturing batches of “fakes” to devalue “originals.” In their idealist vision, absolutely nothing was to be market valued beyond select charity pieces. Their other goals were no less honorable: to create art that was always fun (Because sad and angry art are never as nice or productive,) pleasant (why purposefully build the ugly when we have enough of it in the world,) and approachable (because as artists we have a duty to serve the public.)

Today they said their final goodbye with their one final artwork, one which would break all of their rules besides monetary ones. It was to be their largest, greatest, and most ambitious one yet, their magnum opus, or so they hoped, because they would not see the end of it. And like all of their previous artworks, it was one which would be resolved as quickly to evade collectors: trough the act of total destruction.

And the medium for this artwork, a party, of course.

It was hosted in an abandoned warehouse, which they transformed into a different sort of space: just imagine the interior of some highly ornamental religious space: could be a church, temple, mosque, but built using what could be found in a junkyard. Tomorrow it was scheduled for demolition, to be transformed by cockroaches into glass, concrete, and steel, a boring copy of a copy of a copy. I saw it as a metaphor for the times, that we’re headed not necessarily even towards evil (of an exciting kind,) but just plain mediocrity; like untoasted stale whole wheat sliced bread and the cheapest margarine from the value section of an American supermarket, the margarine tub in question being nearly finished and littered with toaster breadcrumbs.

Alas, onto their party, Imaginatively named “Party.” Each partygoer having received a hand written and delivered letter with a few requirements:

  1. You shall not linger with friends, only be amongst strangers.
  2. Wear a mask so no one can see your face. We will too.
  3. Dress bizarre, or do not dress at all (also accepted).
  4. Music shall only come from analog instruments or the body. Anything digital will be followed by a swift execution.
  5. Do not be a creep; this will also be followed by a swift execution.
  6. Phones and cameras are banned. Execution will pursued with extreme prejudice.
  7. Thou shall party hard.

As verified by an atomic clock, at precisely quarter past midnight, the party started, with the partygoers howling and roaring like wild animals. Some were here in the nude, some animal costumes, some suited up if not in irony, but all clothed for celebration, the carnival where we all pretend to be someone we wish we were. The musicians started playing, dozens of songs at the same time into one awful and disturbed sound from hell. The dancers dance, as best they could lacking a consistent beat. I did too, together with the crowd, on a dance floor made out of office desks, right behind the office cubicles repurposed for making out, shooting up, snorting, or intercourse.

But the Vorhut themselves did not party. They sat on thrones for themselves labeled “peasant,” built using meeting room chairs, sculpted paper machete receipts and faux gold foil, beating on steel drums with wooden spatulas wearing their animal masks and paper crowns.

An hour in, the toilets exploded, erupting all its piss, excrement, and vomit upwards. Then the Vorhut rushed in, with giant rolls of drawing paper, finger painting a masterpiece, the party itself, in insane detail, something no one sober will ever see, appreciate, or even know of its existence.

But I took something I had forgotten about, by someone I didn’t recall ever seeing, from a place unknown, and then it was a naked woman that looked exactly like my friend that woke me up as she whispered “seriously constipated turtles reek of floral driftwood.” I looked up to her face, but it was concealed by her cat mask. “It used to be drugs that created these sentences, but now, we even outsourced that to computers.”

“And you are..?”

“Call me Félicette, and you will be Laika,” she said. “And why can’t I decide?” I responded, to which she said, “You decided as soon as you chose your costume, just as I have.” I touched the mask I was apparently wearing, resembled a dog’s face. “Don’t overthink it, just play. When you overthink, you lose track of your heart. And without a heart, you are dead, metaphorically or literally.”

“As long as I can play, I can pretend I have a friend.”

“Much better than dying lonely.”

“That I will do anyway.”

“Not if you imagine, you can always imagine hard enough.”

“And then what? I can only live amongst an everlasting picnic until reality hits and those of pragmatic needs: paying rent, working, even taking a shit.”

“Somewhere and sometime here you will find me.”

“But I can’t imagine anymore. Isn’t there any suffering worse than having ones only source of happiness being something imagined and deluded towards being real?”

“Then don’t. Let me tell you something, and you must listen carefully,”

…only on Midnight does love happen, using a drawing of a perfect sheep, trough an undetermined sunset of synapses, gouging out your eyes—our body briefly weightless—and then floating trough beautiful night skies; an apparent perfect figure; our hope and dream, so close to the end of time, moments past the cherry blossoms, spoken words turned silent: promising clarity, great pain and suffering, about the burden of existence; the burden of being; the horrifying bag of flesh, to escape death inside a meaningless lost decade; you will find it: The Great Beauty, trough the works of a hopeful heart, about someone always far away; finally facing you, you imagined me once saying: I’ll be your mirror, but I really said, …

It took me too long to understand, but when I did, I was ready. I no longer needed this existence and kindly asked the on site executor to do their job. They placed a naked body on a table, decorated with a single sticker.

As for the Vorhut, they failed Utopia, but had the honor to attempt, even in the face of Armageddon—even in the hell that is normality and current status quo—even in a perpetual present only ever nostalgic for the has been and lost dreams already forgotten come first light. They were forgotten, relegated to a single academic paper and an article of that same Fine Arts Economy they tried so hard to escape from, analyzed like radios dissected by biologists, like the most stone cold arithmetic logic machine trying to understand “party,” like a paperclip factory where we are pulverized and blended into a bloody slush for the mere contents of iron in our bloods.

— Laurens Spangenberg