Marc James Léger
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The unrealised extravagance of the avant garde
Test Dept and the subsumption of labour
in Vanguardia
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The British industrial music group Test Dept. was involved in the 1980s in labour struggles against neoconservativism. From the Miners’ Strike, to the Poll Tax strike and the Polish Solidarity movement, Test Dept developed an original approach to music performance and materials based on the Stakhanovite model of the industrial worker. The eclipse of industrial work at the moment of the group’s emergence allows us to ask relevant questions about contemporary social practice art in the context of contemporary post-Fordism. Today’s state of precarity and shift from class politics to nomadic anarchism bring into view some of the effects of the postmodern theory of the 1980s that were otherwise occluded in Test Dept’s Bolshevik classicism.

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Socially engaged art and theory


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