Para-Gardist Picto-Manifesto

Pictured above is the "Para-Gardist Picto-Manifesto" by W.A.Davison as it was published in Rampike magazine, Fall '98. Below are some quotes from a letter I wrote to the Uruguayan artist/poet Clemente Padin in response to his queries about the "para-garde."

The term "para-garde" came out of various writings I've produced on Recordism... I felt I needed a term, a more holistic term, to describe the many thousands (millions?) of parallel, diverging, and criss-crossing paths of human culture and "para-garde" seemed to fit the bill. It may only be a transitional term since it obviously exists in direct relation to the term "avant-garde" (much like the term "post-modernism" exists in relation to the term "modernism", both of which have outlived their usefulness) but for the time being, it works and I think it has a certain ring to it... I take a very broad view of artistic/creative activity, a somewhat anthropological view I think, and I find many of the terms used to describe the work of artists, writers, etc., and the milieu in which they work, to be too narrow and restrictive, not to mention incorrect! The term "avant-garde" I find particularly bothersome since it seems too often to be used to describe artists (and I'm certain the situation is similar in the literary/poetic communities) who are not at all "avant-garde" but rather represent the current status quo! Worse still, it belies a certain attitude of cultural hegemony. When one refers to "the avant-garde" in any kind of general way, one essentially promotes the idea of a single point of advance to the whole of human culture (and more often than not that point of advance is understood to be Western European, or perhaps American), an idea I find as repulsive as it is ludicrous! Really, it's a problem of specificity. There's nothing wrong with the term "avant-garde" when one is careful to relate it to the specifics of the situation being discussed (i.e. which particular cultural/historical grouping is this point of advance in reference to?).

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions in relation to this concept of "Para-Gardism" and its relevance, usefulness, etc., feel free to contact me at:


- William A. Davison, Mar. 2000

thanks to Rampike, Karl Jirgens and Clemente Padin
image and text on this page copyright W.A.Davison, 2000