Charles Avery, Untitled World , , Pencil, gouache, ink, acrylic, paper, mounted on canvas, framed with plexiglas, The recent Tate Triennial London, February-April, was devoted to consecrating, or at least putting this concept into circulation. It goes beyond nationalities, immersed in global dialogues and creolization. That means, it wanders through history, unable to understand time — as Modernity did — as a lineal progression, or conceive of it as an exhaustion, in which history and metanarratives come to an end as it was perceived from the postmodern perspective.
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The core of this new modernity is, according to me, the experience of wandering — in time, space and mediums. But the definition is far from being complete. This terminology could be said to describe only a new cosmopolitanism that is accessible to relatively few. How would you respond to this? NB: I had a discussion about it with Pascale Marthine Tayou, born in Cameroon and living in Belgium, whose work in the triennial reflects this cultural shift from the point of view of his native culture.
Saying that it is the privilege of the artistic jet set is a pure denial of the worldwide violence of the capitalist system, or an extreme naiveness. We have to get out of this dialectical loop between the global and the local, to get rid of the binary opposition between globalization and traditions. And what is the name of this third way? Modernity, whose historical ambiguity is directed against both standardization and nostalgia. BR: Were the artists in the triennial finalized after you had developed the concept, or were they chosen in part because they helped resolve some of your thinking around the concept?
NB: I started to elaborate the concept with a series of lectures given in various places, like Bangkok, Sydney or Buenos Aires, in order to develop it through discussions with other artists, critics or curators. The idea of centering the triennial on this theme was an early choice, but the problem was to select artists at the same time than I was inventing the selection criterions… Hence, the process was really experimental: as curators, we are more used to define the exhibition frame, and then choose the artists.
Here, it was like improvising an opera: my libretto had to be completed while the singers were already on stage. And, of course, the idea developed since the opening. BR: What prompted the decision to have non Britain-based artists for the first time in a Tate Triennial? Those exhibitions are more and more absurd, as the fact that you are born here or there does not necessarily determine your frame of mind anymore. BR: I am interested in the presence of Gustave Metzger in the exhibition.
Amongst other things, he is the founder of Destructivist art. Is his work in some way an antecedent to the phenomena you wish to describe? BR: If the Altermodern is a new paradigm, did it change your approach to exhibition making?
I am interested in how you approach space and material concerns — it is something I think you rarely get asked about though I have noticed some positive reviews relating to the installation. NB: Thank you for asking this.
I tend to think that the spatial organization of an exhibition has to be directed towards a specific effect, and has to be articulated in order to make a certain pattern appear. Here, it was a certain feeling: scattered or fragmented forms, archipelago-like, and the impression of a journey. One critic from a London newspaper wrote that he had the same feeling visiting the show as when browsing on his computer: he summed up what I tried to provide to the visitor.
You were not writing with the benefit and safety of hindsight. Published in French in , and in English in , when it arrived in the U. American academics largely aligned against the book, declaring your claims for the political potential of the work were overstated.
Do you look back on Relational Aesthetics as a necessarily flawed project that usefully began the mapping of a new paradigm? NB: When I published the first text of what was to become Relational Aesthetics, in , I was trying to portray a generation. As an observer of the works of about twenty artists who were loosely working together regularly, I discerned that the common denominator in their practices as heterogeneous in style as they may be was found in their link with the relational sphere.
They all were working within the inter-human in all of its dimensions. In general terms, I try to understand and explain what I see emerging, not to produce afterthoughts and theorize what has already happened… Altermodern goes into the same difficult direction.
BR: Postproduction, your second book, seemed to refine and expand claims made in the first. Yet it retained a sense, clear within Relational Aesthetics, that art had entered a new paradigm, fueled in part by the Internet. A realm where the older tensions that had been used to measure value and quality, ones linked to Modernism and certain notions of criticality bound up in the Culture Industry via Adorno and Spectacle via Debord had to be abandoned.
And it was important to me to write this second book mainly about the same artists, in order to show that their work could not be summed up to one particular level of understanding.
The Radicant , which is now out, is a more panoramic scenery. But to answer your question, The Radicant also prolongates and deepens some aspects of Postproduction, clarifying the political statement of this earlier book. In a way, it is about the value of programming and deejaying as methods: what does it mean?
What do artists actually do when they use already existing forms? What ideology does it relate to? To cut a long story short, what we traditionally call reality is in fact a simple montage. On the basis of that conclusion, the aesthetic challenge of contemporary art resides in recomposing that montage: art is an editing table that enables us to realize alternative, temporary versions of reality with the same material basically, everyday life. Thus, artists manipulate social forms, reorganize them and incorporate them in original scenarios, deconstructing the script on which the illusory legitimacy of those scenarios was grounded.
The artist de-programs in order to re-program, suggesting that there are other possible usages for techniques, tools and spaces at our disposition. The cultural or social structures in which we live are nothing more for art than elements to be used, objects that must be examined and formally addressed.
That, to my mind, is the essential content of the political program of contemporary art: maintaining the world in a precarious state or, in other words, permanently affirming the transitory, circumstantial nature of the institutions and the rules that govern individual or collective behavior.
The main function of the instruments of communication of capitalism is to repeat a message, which is: we live in a finite, immovable and definitive political framework, only the decor must change at high speed.
Art questions this message, and reverses it. I think this might be the cornerstone of all my writings, in a way. Photo: Tate Photography.
Gardami Altermodern Undoubtedly, as with any major exhibition at a key institution, this niolas to be assumed and niccolas. Nicolas Bourriaud born is a curator and art critic, who curated a great number of exhibitions and biennials all over the world. Flight-lines, translation programmes and chains of heterogeneous elements articulate each other. Many signs suggest that the historical period defined by postmodernism is coming to an end: The different states and the different elements that constitute it, in a way. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Freek Duinhof marked it as to-read Sep 14, Each Prologue includes lectures, performances, burriaud and a manifesto text and attempts to define what the curator sees as the four main facets bourriaus Altermodern  . For example, that in Africa Modernism never happened, or in the altermodeen East its somewhat rejection as soulles oppression.
As Home points out, modernity and post-colonialism always were part of the same historical development - late capitalist globalisation. But forwards, backwards or anagramatised, the notions Bourriaud hangs his shows on all amount to the same thing: bullshit. The video installation Hermitos Children by Spartacus Chetwynd looks like out-takes from a promo by a really bad indie band replete with mock-shocking nudity zzzzzzz. That said, there is the odd decent piece in Altermodern, even if Bourriaud is only able to include the most outstanding work by completely over-indulging his taste for slip-shod curational methods. The Tate Triennial is supposedly an exhibition of emerging British artists, Gustav Metzger is actually stateless he does live in London and his art world reputation dates all the way back to the s. Their work in the art world ranges from commissions for museums such as Centre Georges Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo in Paris, to collaborations with artists like Philippe Parreno and Pierre Hughe.
Altermodern: A Conversation with Nicolas Bourriaud
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