Though it did not appear for another fortnight, the first volume of BLAST, that infamous, oversized, puce-coloured block, was marked with today’s date: 20 June, 1914. It was published a little less than a fortnight later, on 2 July 1914. To mark the centenary of this later date, BLAST at 100 will take place in the Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin on 2 July, 2014.
BLAST was an assemblage of poetry, prose, drama and visual art, the manifesto of the Vorticist movement and, in its own right, a radical experiment in typography and avant-garde self-promotion. Vorticism may have been a short-lived phenomenon, but BLAST remains as vivid and challenging today as it was one hundred years ago. Its influences upon the subsequent courses of art, poetry and popular culture have been extraordinary.
BLAST at 100 sets out to assess some of these influences. The day’s proceedings will be accompanied by an exhibition of both issues of BLAST, alongside other examples of contemporary artistic and print culture, in Trinity’s Long Room library, and a performance of Wyndham Lewis’s avant-garde play, first published in BLAST, Enemy of the Stars, directed by Nicholas Johnson and Colm Summers. This one-day interdisciplinary event, which is open to all, will showcase the continuing influence and relevance of BLAST in the twenty-first century.
It will also ask the question whether BLAST might have been influenced by the contemporary renaissance of the arts underway in Ireland. Certainly it set out to generate its own ‘native’ ‘nationalist’ movement in the English arts. Its influence in turn upon the work of Eileen Gray has been noted, while the Irish journal, To-morrow, took its inspiration openly from BLAST. There are also strong connections between the Vorticists and literary figures like Joyce, Yeats and Beckett, giving a particular resonance to the location, in Trinity College Dublin, of this first centenary celebration of the house-journal of the English avant-garde.
Registration to take place on the day. Full price: €10. Discounted price (students, unwaged): €5. All are welcome to participate in this one-day exploration of early avant-garde art, poetry, prose and drama in Trinity College Dublin.