chapter  7
The invisible vanguard
Reflections on political movements and contemporary avant-garde formations
ByJames Harding
Pages 28

Invisibility is an awkward vanguard that arrives like an uninvited guest and upsets the show. And taken as a point of departure, the traces of invisibility that haunt the reception of Duchamp's Fountain are merely guideposts to point us towards more contemporary political contexts where invisibility has taken on a radical life of its own and emerged from the long shadow cast by the notions of vangardism associated with Duchampian aesthetics and the celebrated Duchampian gesture. Dominguez and Stalbalm were exonerated, but found themselves in the midst of a political storm. This chapter suggests that perhaps the cover of the metaphorical darkness might adjust our critical vision just enough for the invisible avant-garde to move into the visible horizon. In the American context, it is only a matter of time before any political or cultural discussion of invisibility inevitably circles in on the work of the African American writer Ralph Ellison and his 1952 novel Invisible Man.