As performed by Teresa Veramendi, Naropa MFA 2016, at Naropa University on October 9, 2014, on the occasion of the funeral for the dearly departed.
Ecclesiastes 3:11. God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, God has put eternity into the human heart, yet so that we cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
The Qur’an. Surat al-Baqarah 2:216. And it may be that you dislike something even though it is good for you.
We must remember to celebrate the life of the American Avant-garde, to hear the piping from that distant parade even from of the 21st century. It has not been so very long, though some might call our gathering outdated, or gay. So be it! I believe the spirit of the American Avant-garde lives on in all of us, indeed is with us at this very moment.
Some days, I imagine a world where every human being could open their consciousness to the spiritual dimension. Where we could all know that not only are we not alone, not only will our actions reverberate for the rest of humanity’s existence, but that there is unending wisdom from the past saturating in the very words we speak every day. Avant-garde. Did any of us here today really know the Avant-garde? Did the Avant-garde ever really speak to us on the level of spiritual truth? I believe so, for all of us, in our own unique relationships.
If John Cage could be here today, I believe he would be proud of all the Avant-garde accomplished in its relatively short life – the union of theatre, music, and dance is real. The invitation for a deep critique of mainstream culture heavily scents the air, yet many artists are too afraid to make the art that is called for by the Avante-garde, and by our time, as our species ambulates around the earth’s tipping point.
The illnesses ailing the Avant-garde were various: late American imperial crony capitalism, the general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American people, the well-intentioned academia, and technology.
I can speak personally and say that the Avant-garde changed my life, and I believe the Avant-garde will continue to alter my path, from beyond the grave. A romantic sensibility about a utopian future lives on in my heart. Many Americans are afraid to look forward since our path spells disaster. The Avant-garde prods us, insisting that we must look forward, we must create visions of a future we might have, particularly when no one else will. The Avant-garde taught me to believe that there must be many ways to radically restructure the way the average human being sees theatre and life. There is still so much work to be made. So many truths to learn. So many products to sell! Okay that was tongue-in-cheek.
But really, what is the Avant-garde? What do Richard Schechner and Robert Wilson really have in common? And if we cannot discreetly define a thing, can we really be sure it’s dead?
Written by Teresa Veramendi
Naropa MFA Candidate 2016