"If You're in the Avant Garde, You're in the Wrong War": Charlotte Moorman's New York Avant Garde Festival, Experimentalism, and U.S. Politics of the 1960s
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Schmid, Caitlin Rose
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CitationSchmid, Caitlin Rose. 2019. "If You're in the Avant Garde, You're in the Wrong War": Charlotte Moorman's New York Avant Garde Festival, Experimentalism, and U.S. Politics of the 1960s. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Abstract“‘If You’re in the Avant Garde, You’re in the Wrong War’: Charlotte Moorman’s New York Avant Garde Festival, Experimentalism, and U.S. Politics of the 1960s” is the first book-length study to spotlight Charlotte Moorman’s New York Avant Garde Festivals (1963-80) and their sensational events, understated Happenings, chamber music, action music, and mixed media of every kind. Drawing on newly available materials from the Charlotte Moorman Archive at Northwestern University, interviews with art world members and scholars, and embodied knowledge procured from my recreation of an avant-garde festival, I emphasize sound and its producers within an intermedial framework in order to reinstate Moorman’s annual event as one critical epicenter of a multifaceted “1960s avant-garde”—an unstable roster of people, ideas, things, pieces, allegiances, and values. The sum of fifteen years of Festival production and practice becomes a lens through which to view the larger art world’s internal negotiations over its responsibility to social justice and political activism during a period of countercultural upheaval in the United States.
This work further contributes to the study of musical avant-gardes by constructing a model for experimental writing that seeks to mirror the ethos of the subject matter within the context of a humanities dissertation. Grounded in a distinctive methodology that incorporates elements of Actor-Network Theory, intersectional feminist musicology, and art world theory, each chapter takes the form of an “Assemblage” made up of discrete non-linear units of text. Individual units follow human and non-human actors, and track networks of activity and influence linking 1960s American experimental festivals to contemporary notions of race, gender, education, activism, and citizenship. When juxtaposed, the collective Assemblages allow for narratives that intertwine, contradict, and celebrate the New York Avant Garde Festival’s radical resistance to the scholarly gaze. The implications of my methodology are as significant as my topical findings: this project is also about the possibilities inherent in scholarship as a creative and experimental act.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029835
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