Antinomies of Art and Culture

Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity

Antinomies of Art and Culture

Book Pages: 456 Illustrations: 77 illustrations Published: January 2009

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

In this landmark collection, world-renowned theorists, artists, critics, and curators explore new ways of conceiving the present and understanding art and culture in relation to it. They revisit from fresh perspectives key issues regarding modernity and postmodernity, including the relationship between art and broader social and political currents, as well as important questions about temporality and change. They also reflect on whether or not broad categories and terms such as modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and decolonization are still relevant or useful. Including twenty essays and seventy-seven images, Antinomies of Art and Culture is a wide-ranging yet incisive inquiry into how to understand, describe, and represent what it is to live in the contemporary moment.

In the volume’s introduction the theorist Terry Smith argues that predictions that postmodernity would emerge as a global successor to modernity have not materialized as anticipated. Smith suggests that the various situations of decolonized Africa, post-Soviet Europe, contemporary China, the conflicted Middle East, and an uncertain United States might be better characterized in terms of their “contemporaneity,” a concept which captures the frictions of the present while denying the inevitability of all currently competing universalisms. Essays range from Antonio Negri’s analysis of contemporaneity in light of the concept of multitude to Okwui Enwezor’s argument that the entire world is now in a postcolonial constellation, and from Rosalind Krauss’s defense of artistic modernism to Jonathan Hay’s characterization of contemporary developments in terms of doubled and even para-modernities. The volume’s centerpiece is a sequence of photographs from Zoe Leonard’s Analogue project. Depicting used clothing, both as it is bundled for shipment in Brooklyn and as it is displayed for sale on the streets of Uganda, the sequence is part of a striking visual record of new cultural forms and economies emerging as others are left behind.

Contributors: Monica Amor, Nancy Condee, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung, Geeta Kapur, Rosalind Krauss, Bruno Latour, Zoe Leonard, Lev Manovich, James Meyer, Gao Minglu, Helen Molesworth, Antonio Negri, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Nikos Papastergiadis, Colin Richards, Suely Rolnik, Terry Smith, McKenzie Wark


Antinomies of Art and Culture is marvelously energetic and determinedly good willed, and so like all substantial commentaries is certain to create much productive discussion. I passionately admire this book, for it is ambitious, far-reaching, and intellectually generous. Anyone who rejects its account really should be inspired to come up with a better analysis of early twenty-first-century art.” — David Carrier, CAA Reviews

“[A]n excellent attempt to understand, describe and represent, in a pluralistic and multidisciplinary approach, what is the art and culture to live in the contemporary moment.” — Giuseppe Pennisi, Leonardo Reviews

“Anyone wishing to assess the state of contemporary art and its relation to institutions, politics, social movements, and indeed, the entire project of imagining and naming the world at the present moment will find this brilliant book essential and disturbing reading. It offers no grand synthesis but provides a shattered mosaic of the crucial elements that will have to be assembled by any future historian looking back on the early twenty-first century.” — W. J. T. Mitchell, author of What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images

“This is a provocative and indeed challenging assessment of the relation between ‘art’ and ‘culture’ (in scare quotes because both concepts are questioned) in the post-post-modernist moment. The essays successfully reposition discussion in a genuinely worldwide perspective, redefine modernism on a global scale, and push avant-garde thinking in new directions.” — Hayden White, University Professor Emeritus, University of California, and Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

“This remarkable orchestration of voices, visualities, and political visions lays bare the antinomies and contradictions that haunt the sovereign claims of globalization. Each consummate essay is an artful reflection on the complex resistances and revisions that emanate from cultural practices that transform the aesthetic and ethical realities of embedded and embattled localities. I warmly recommend Antinomies of Art and Culture.” — Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Terry Smith is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, and a visiting professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Sydney. He is the author of several books including The Architecture of Aftermath and Making the Modern: Industry, Art, and Design in America.

Okwui Enwezor is Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has curated numerous art exhibitions, including the 2nd Seville Biennial of Contemporary Art, Documenta 11 (Kassel, 1998–2002), and Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York, where he serves as Adjunct Curator.

Nancy Condee is Director of the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of The Imperial Trace: Recent Russian Cinema (forthcoming) and editor of Soviet Hieroglyphics: Visual Culture in Late-Twentieth-Century Russia.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments svii

Introduction: The Contemporaneity Question / Terry Smith 1

Part I: The Politics of Temporality

1. Contemporaneity between Modernity and Postmodernity / Antonio Negri 23

2. A Cultural Conjuncture in India: Art into Documentary / Geeta Kapur 30

3. Some Rotten Shoots from the Seeds of Time / Rosalind Krauss 60

4. The Topology of Contemporary Art / Boris Groys 71

Part 2: Multiple Modernities

5. On the Contingency of Modernity and the Persistence of Canons / Monica Amor 83

6. Politics of Flexible Subjectivity: The Event Work of Lygia Clark / Suely Rolnik 97

7. Double Modernity, Para-Modernity / Jonathan Hay 113

8. "Particular Time, Specific Space, My Truth": Total Modernity in Chinese Contemporary Art / Gao Minglu 133

9. The Perils of Unilateral Power: Neomodernist Metaphors and the New Global Order / Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie 165

10. Analogue: 1998-2007 / Zoe Leonard, Introduced by Helen Molesworth 187

Part 3: Afterworlds

11. The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition / Okwui Enwezor 207

12. From Emigration to E-migration: Contemporaneity and the Former Second World / Nancy Condee 235

13. Aftermath: Value and Violence in Contemporary South African Art / Colin Richards 250

14. A Case of Being "Contemporary": Conditions, Spheres, and Narratives of Contemporary Chinese Art / Wu Hung 290

Part 4: Cotemporalities

15. Emancipation or Attachments? The Different Futures of Politics / Bruno Latour 309

16. The Return of the Sixties in Contemporary Art and Criticism / James Meyer 324

17. Introduction to Info-Aesthetics / Lev Manovich 333

18. The Giftshop at the End of History / McKenzie Wark 345

19. Spatial Aesthetics: Rethinking the Contemporary / Nikos Papastergiadis 363

References 383

Contributors 413

Index 417

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4203-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4186-4
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