Four decades ago, Peter Bürger published his Theory of the Avant-Garde, a cult book, concentrating on the two most important tasks that art demanded at the time: to break with representation and to dissolve the frontier that separated it from life. Failure in this twofold enterprise would have certified, according to Bürger, the defeat of the avant-garde and perhaps worse: its impossibility.
Forty years later, Teoría de la retaguardia is an ironic manifesto born out of that fiasco, though it wastes no time in lamenting it or making up for it. Especially because it is understood here that our time is not marked by the distance between art and life, but by a tension between art and survival, which is the continuation of life by whatever means.
In the malaise that springs from this survival, Teoría de la retaguardia is suspicious of an art that is leaving its splinters in politics, iconography or literature, spheres from which it returns ever more battered to its Ithaca of always: the museum. From this round trip, this scathing and austere essay – in which Duchamp meets La Lupe, the revolution meets the museum, Paul Virilio meets Joan Fontcuberta or Fukuyama meets Michael Jackson – wonders if Contemporary Art never comes to an end. Because if it were mortal, then an end would have to be written for it.