Altermodern Manifesto: Postmodernism is Dead [like it was ever alive!]

By Nicolas Bourriaud, for the Tate Triennial [3 Feb. to 26 Apr.] 2009:

  1. A new modernity is emerging, reconfigured to an age of globalisation—understood in its economic, political and cultural aspects: an altermodern culture [a.k.a. global or “trans-national” modernity: “borders,” “exiles,” “energy” (?)]
  2. Increased communication, travel and migration are affecting the way we live [mobility]
  3. Our daily lives consist of journeys in a chaotic and teeming universe [itineracy]
  4. Multiculturalism and identity is being overtaken by creolisation [multiculturalism = atomic entities in suspension (cf. colloids), i.e. “rough” aggregates of simple entities; creolism = molecular entities in solution, i.e. “smooth” aggregates of compound entities]: Artists are now starting from a globalised state of culture [art ex hybridity]
  5. This new universalism is based on translations, subtitling and generalised dubbing [polyglotism]
  6. Today’s art explores the bonds that text and image, time and space, weave between themselves [art pro hybridity: “docu-motion,” “heterochronia”]
  7. Artists are responding to a new globalised perception. They traverse a cultural landscape saturated with signs and create new pathways between multiple formats of expression and communication [art per hybridity: “archive,” “viatorisation”]

So, this (like Augé’s supermodernity) is another way of saying what Fredric Jameson said many years ago: that postmodernism is just reconfigured, revaluated modernism.

Cf. his manifesto:

Many signs suggest that the historical period defined by postmodernism is coming to an end: multiculturalism and the discourse of identity is being overtaken by a planetary movement of creolisation; cultural relativism and deconstruction, substituted for modernist universalism, give us no weapons against the twofold threat of uniformity and mass culture and traditionalist, far-right, withdrawal. . . . If twentieth-century modernism was above all a western cultural phenomenon, altermodernity arises out of planetary negotiations, discussions between agents from different cultures. Stripped of a centre, it can only be polyglot. [Thus, “[w]e are entering the era of universal subtitling, of generalised dubbing.”] Altermodernity is characterised by translation, unlike the modernism of the twentieth century which spoke the abstract language of the colonial west, and postmodernism, which encloses artistic phenomena in origins and identities [?]. . . .

The artist becomes “homo viator,” the prototype of the contemporary traveller whose passage through signs and formats refers to a contemporary experience of mobility, travel and transpassing. This evolution can be seen in the way works are made: a new type of form is appearing, the journey-form, made of lines drawn both in space and time, materialising trajectories rather than destinations. The form of the work expresses a course, a wandering, rather than a fixed space-time.

Themes [ed.]:

  1. energy: sustainability rather than the single explosive force
  2. travel: forms based on the experiences of travel—or travel as the form itself
  3. archive: chaining or clustering together signs from contemporary and historical periods
  4. docu-motion: fact melded with fiction
  5. heterochronia: existing within many times; questioning the notion of what is considered contemporary
  6. exiles: exploring the positives and negatives of exile
  7. borders: crossing not only national borders, but also the traditional artistic borders of form and medium
  8. viatorisation: the viator—traveller—giving movement and dynamism to form.
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