BORIS GROYS: The Topology of Contemporary Art PART 2: MULTIPLE MODERNITIES. 5. MONICA AMOR: On the Contingency of. Contemporary Art in Time” considers some examples, and conse- quences, of .. Cf. Boris Groys, “The Topology of Contemporary Art,” in Antinomies of Art. Synopsis: To understand the qualitative properties of “Contemporary Art”, the Author examines the interplay between Modern & Post-modern.

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Therefore, never the same even if the ideal is the same. Contemporary art is working on the level of context, framework, background, or of a new theoretical interpretation. In both cases the context decides about the newness — and in both cases we cannot rely on an established, institutional context but have to create something like a theological or artistic installation that would allow us to take a decision and to articulate it.

The time of contemplation must be continually renegotiated between artist and spectator. But to recognize a certain image as a truly iconoclastic one we have to be able to compare it with the traditional images, with the icons of the past.

And precisely this claim to truth was put in question by post-modernist criticism: On a seperate note, I have a hard time commenting on the blog. That is why contemporary art is less production of individual artworks than it is manifestation of an individual decision to include or to exclude things and images that circulate anonymously in our world- to give them a new context or to deny it to them: All of us know what does it mean to transmit a certain cultural heritage form one generation of the students to another generation.

Our decision to recognize a certain image as an original or as a copy is dependent on the context — on the scene where this decision is taken. Is it enough that the public simply goes by the assumption that an original exists somewhere, hidden away and protected, unless its aforementioned destruction does take place and is purposely made known?

The topology of today’s networks of communication, of generation, translation and distribution of images is extremely heterogeneous. The installation demonstrates a certain selection, a certain chain of choices, a certain logic of inclusions and exclusions. This gesture has a positive goal to reveal the materiality of the artwork, its pure presence — to establish, as Malevich stated it, the “supremacy of art” by liberating art from its submission under the mimetic illusion, communicative intention or the traditional requirements of instantaneous recognizability.

And he insists on the permanent visual recognizability, on the self-identity of a copy as it circulates in our contemporary culture. In terms of political voice, can a non-installation artwork create a comparable impact to that of installation? In this way through different contexts and media this film footage is transformed by different program languages, different softwares, different framings on the screen, different placement in an installation space, etc.


Benjamin’s corresponding formulations are very well known: The iconoclastic gesture that produces the modernist artwork functions of course not simply as a manifestation of an artistic subjectivity understood as pure negativity.

The inclusion of the film footage into an artistic installation shows its transformative power in boros especially obvious way.

Rather, modernist art can be characterized by its specific claim to be true — in a sense to be present, thoroughly visible, immediately revealed, or to use a Heideggerian term “unconcealed”. I am a little confused about the copy talk. The traditional art media are all defined by a specific material support for the medium: And that is the main problem of Benjamin’s thinking: A creative act if it is understood as an iconoclastic gesture presupposes a permanent reproduction contmeporary the context in which this act is effectuated.

That aart why the installation is able to openly manifest the conflict between the presence of the images and objects inside a contwmporary horizon of our immediate experience and their invisible, virtual, “absent” circulation in the space outside of this horizon — a conflict that defines the contemporary cultural practice.

The images are all the time transformed, rewritten, reedited, reprogrammed on their way through these networks — and become also to be visually different by every such a step.

The practice of the historical avant-garde was based on the equation that was already formulated by Bakunin, Stirner and Nietzsche: You are commenting using your WordPress. The infinite is, on the contrary, not open because it has no outside. In other words, Benjamin describes the production of the mass culture as operating by a reversal of the “high” Modernist art strategy: Who is making them?

It remains maybe the same copy — but it bogis different originals. But how can an individual artist prove that he or she is boros, genuinely creative?

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys

That is, it emerges precisely at the very moment it is getting lost. Today, the term “contemporary art” does not simply designate art that is produced in our time. The artwork that is conceived as a machine of infinite expansion and inclusion is not an open artwork but an artistic counterpart of an imperial hybris.

The contemporary artistic installation has a goal to present the scene, the context, the strategy of this differentiation as it takes place here and now — that is why it can be called genuinely contemporary, indeed.


This paradoxical character of the Modern project was recognized and described by a number of the theoreticians and reflected on by many artists in the 60s and 70s.

But if an installation is a space where the differentiation between original and copy, innovation and repetition, past and future takes place, could bkris speak of an individual installation itself as being original or new? Is it the same copy of the same copy of the same original? Taken separately these images and objects do not raise the claim to be unconcealed and true.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys | alfredcrucible

This is why, paradoxically, the more you want to free yourself from topologgy art tradition, the more you become subjected to the logic of grkys art historical narrative and to museum collecting.

The feeling of insecurity resulting from this conflict puts a spectator in a situation of choice. The recognition of this inner repetitiveness of the Modern project led to a redefinition of this project during the recent decades and to a post-modern thematization of the problematics of repetition, iteration, reproduction. At the same time an installation is not a manifestation of already existing relationships among things but, precisely, on the contrary, an installation offers an opportunity to use the things and images of our civilization grots a very subjective, individual way.

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The contemporary technology thinks in generations. In the video installation where a video is moving in a loop the spectator may move about freely in the room and leave or return at any time.

The iconoclastic images of destruction and reduction were destined to serve as the icons of the future. Because an installation is purely in the present — a product of the here and now — each installation is a different context which cannot be compared.

We are not only able to produce a copy out of an original by a technique of reproduction but we also are able to produce an original out of a copy by a technique of topological relocation of this copy — by a technique of installation. Benjamin suggested that the new technology is able to make a copy more and more identical to the original. The recognition of the iconoclastic, of the creative, of the new requires a permanent comparison with the traditional, with the old.