Avant Garde or Urban Parasite

Art is simply a human creative expression. From kids drawing their families with crayon colors to teenager musicians rehearsing their loud music in the garage, anyone can be an artist. But what makes an artist any good, famous, successful? Is it a talent? Is it luck? Is it exposure? Those are the questions we’re asking about Lydia Lunch.


Human creation becomes “truly” artistic when it starts getting heavy third-party recognition. On entertainment-driven media, it’s easier to see when it’s good than when it’s not. However, when the expression carries heavy “artistic” and “political” messages, the “importance” recognition usually comes from those who are “qualified” to evaluate pieces of art, even though topic like these are highly subjective. Avant-Garde is a French term that means “vanguard”, things that are beyond its time. French left-theorist Henri de Saint-Simon (1760 — 1825) originally coined the term because he believed in the positive influential powers of art. Iconic members of the movement are Raoul Hausman, Man Ray, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and the infamous Marcel Duchamp (we’ll check on him later).

Lydia Lunch’s career

Lydia Lunch appeared back in the 1970’s as mostly an American singer of “noise music”, a genre most people considered to be, well, noise. You can go check one of her songs: “Atomic Bongos,” and see how she clearly didn’t know how to sing. She was also tried her hand as an actress, poet, writer, and currently a women’s empowerment coach. As of late, her modus operandi is saying artists should chase the art and not the money. All the while she reaps the benefits of her second-wind profits and, even more, how would someone continue doing art if there’s no money involved?

She began her music career in New York with a No-Wave (post-punk) band named Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. No-Wave had a destructive, nothing-has-any-meaning kind of vibe. And with a definite artistic goal, music critics began to rally behind their noises to call it by names like “raw,” “real,” “vanguard,” and “underground.” Her career exploded because she was a known groupie in the post-punk world during the 70’s- nothing more. She slept with many famous singers of the movement, including Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. Music is about the personal emotional connection you make to it. However, is hard to truly connect with music that is nor harmonic, melodic, symmetric, and well sung. Music that seems like it’s just trying to be different and weird for the sake of it. But then again, critics create hype that often goes sour in the right conditions. The internet makes the entire body of work of Lydia Lunch available and curious people can decide for themselves.

But if you need an example: check her album “Beirut Slump- Shut up and Bleed,” 8.5/10 stars rated an album by one of the main music rating sites, Pitchfork. I dare to say Lydia’s purposely horrible music is not a pleasant experience. Conceptual art? Remember Marcel Duchamp? To prove how modern art was such a joke, he presented the work “Fountain” in 1917, which is simply an upside-down urinal that’s still revered as one of the prime examples of conceptual art. Lydia Lunch is the same: she presents upside-down urinals as art and hoping to find many people who consider her as a genius. And many people do.

We cannot conclude that she’s an urban parasite, but like many of her era and background- they all tend to fall into the same category. True artists never follow the money nor the “conceptual art”, they follow their passion. Many of the dedicated ones died penniless, but their artwork lives on and is often worth millions.