Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Grant Pooke Considers the Altermodern and its Role in Contemporary Art

In his book Contemporary British Art Grant Pooke mentions that Bourriaud features in the book The History of British Art 1870-Now (2008) edited by Chris Stephens (fourth volume) and that he talks about developments since the millennium.

He also notes that a change happens inline or aided by the exhibition British Art Show 6 (Sept 2005-2006). ‘As the co-curators Alex Farquharson and Andrea Schlieker noted, the cultural diversity of contemporary British art could no longer be ‘attributed to the post-colonial diaspora alone’, but to the interesting dynamic of globalisation.’

Pooke relates this observation to Tate Britain’s Fourth Triennial Exhibition and Bourriaud’s manifesto for the Altermodern and draws upon Bourriaud’s use of the word ‘translation’ as an implementing of new languages in an overly westernised arena of historical identities. He says that the suggestion of the Altermodern reveals the cultural practice is ‘informed by hybridity, mobility and translation.’ (Pooke 2011 p11). That it puts the artist as ‘traveller’ in a state of ‘flux’ as they are affected by the ‘now’ of society and geography in which they are located. The implication is that the social context is now eminent out weighing the role of Modernism.

Pooke highlights the relationship Bourriaud’s ideas have with post-colonial theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s work Empire (2000). He suggests that the two share the vision of an international market that taps and encourages new audiences for the corporate good. Pooke also highlights though that he has doubts about whether Altermodern as a term can appear in the pure state that Bourriaud indicates. He cites Sarat Maharaj and how he talks about a bridge between western and non-western cultures which is difficult to cross without simplifying many complex meanings and languages and that in a sense it is untranslatable. Pooke is talking about identity and it’s many nuances and its relationship to the assumed British identity but that this should be questioned making the argument for the Altermodern even more complex if fixed identity is also in a constant state of flux.

‘Increasingly, within the ‘expanded field’ of cultural production and proximities, artists hybridise styles, formats and media.’ (Pooke, 2011 p5)