Sam: A common criticism I hear from people on our side of the ‘cultural divide’, regarding Vorticists and Futurists, is that the avant-garde, as a concept, is antiquated. Do you think that’s true, or do you think people are being a bit too pessimistic about its potential?
Fen: Being pessimistic and cynical is something inherent to people who are more on the conservative spectrum, but I think that one must look back to go forward; you can clasp at the fire and the energy of a certain group or a certain movement, and then you can run forward with that. I don’t think it’s a case of saying, you look back at them and stay there.
I think that it’s going to take time, movements, and art styles to take a while to mature and find a new way. I don’t at all believe that we simply just have to take on what they do and just reside there.
Sam: In other words: “it’s not worship of the ashes, it’s the preservation of the fire.”
Fen: Yes, absolutely. I think what’s important is that if you are going to throw this forward – I mean, the futurists were, for example, very excited by the motorcar and the aeroplane and flight, because that was the period that they were in.
I don’t think we need to be excited by the aeroplane in the material sense. However, I think we can be excited about something. That visionary and Faustian spirit is deeply ingrained within our European psyche. I think we get excited about going on and going forward. I don’t think it’s a case of simply just regurgitating the platitudes or what they were doing. It’s about finding a place for that energy now.
It’s really about energy and celebrating force over death and decay; the latter of these is what the current regime works on. It’s the cult of the victim. This is not glorious stuff. This is not about going upwards towards something higher: this is about keeping you on the lowest level. For me, that is not how life is, that’s not how nature is: it is a lie. It’s not a culture that has any sort of fire in the belly. It doesn’t make you want to live.
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Photo Credit: Fen de Villiers