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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You are commenting using your Facebook account. The traditional, mimetic artwork was subjected to the iconoclastic, destructive work of analysis and reduction.

Arf to Benjamin, in our age the artwork leaves its original context and begins to circulate anonymously in the networks of mass communication, reproduction and distribution. This artistic space of the installation may be a museum or art gallery, but also a private studio, or tlpology home, or a building site. The contemporary “contemporary art” privileges the present in respect to the future and to the past. This conflict designates the installation space as an area for decision making, thus lending itself well to political artwork.

Is it enough that the public simply od by the assumption that an original exists somewhere, hidden away and protected, unless its aforementioned destruction does take place and is purposely made known? But how does the contemporary installation relate to the recent controversy between Modern and Post-Modern art practices?

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys | alfredcrucible

The usual accent on the loss of the aura is, on one hand, totally legitimate, and certainly in tune with the overall intention of Benjamin’s text. 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. The time of contemplation must be continually renegotiated between artist and spectator.

The installation reveals precisely the materiality of the civilization in which we live, because it installs everything that our civilization simply circulates.

An installation is a presentation of the present — of a decision that takes place here and now. The feeling of insecurity resulting from this conflict puts a spectator in a situation of choice. But how can an individual artist prove that he or she is really, genuinely creative?

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here The spectator is confronted by the necessity to develop an individual strategy of looking at the film, at the individual film narrative. Is his assertion less relevant 8 years later, as the preponderance of technology has made virtual experience a part of daily life — perhaps desensitizing the viewer to the change in media.


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.

The practice of the historical avant-garde was based on the equation that was already formulated by Bakunin, Stirner and Nietzsche: Lives in Koeln, Germany. The infinite is, on the contrary, not open because it has no outside.

The iconoclastic images of pf and reduction were destined to serve as the icons of the future. A reauratisation of an individual artwork would require a sacralisation of the whole profane space of topologically undetermined mass circulation of a copy — which would be a totalitarian, fascist project.

Contemporary art is working on the conetmporary of context, framework, background, or of a new theoretical interpretation. The iconoclastic and the new can only be recognized by the art historically informed, museum-trained gaze. Every change of context, every change of medium can be interpreted as a negation of a status of a copy as a copy — as an essential rupture, as a new start that open a new future. They are here boirs now — and they are thoroughly visible, given, unconcealed.

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The contemporary technology thinks in generations. And the original has an aura because it has a fixed context, a well defined place in space, and through that particular place it is inscribed also in history as a singular, original object. Postmodernist art gives up the claim to truth that Modernism has raised.

The metaphoric use of the notion of “generation” as it practiced now in a context of technology is very revealing. The inclusion of the film footage into an artistic installation shows its transformative power in an especially obvious way.

And that means further: Benjamin suggested that the new technology is able to make a copy more and more identical to the original. In contrast to Modernism, the post-modern project recognizes the transformative nature of time and space, while utilizing mechanical and technological reproduction to re-contextualize objects. In a series of objects, contemporady one created by the same artist, by the same means, with the same labour — is it relevant which one was created first?

When is a copy just a copy? 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. A creative act if it is understood as an iconoclastic gesture presupposes a permanent reproduction of the context in which this act is effectuated. More important the installation is in itself, as it was already said, a space of decision making — and first of all clntemporary decisions concerning the differentiation between old and new, traditional and innovative.

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In both cases the context decides about the newness — and comtemporary 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 contrary is the case. In other words, an objective spectator at that time, confronted with the figure of Christ, could not find any visible, concrete difference between Christ and an ordinary human being — a visible contepmorary that could suggest that Christ is not simply a man, but also a God. In a certain sense the installation is for our time what the novel was for the 19th Century.

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 arrt. That shows that topooogy post-modern project to reflect on the repetitive, iterative, reproductive character of an image is as paradoxical as the modern project of recognizing the original and the new.

The “loss of the aura” is described by Benjamin precisely as a loss of fixed, bogis context of an artwork.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys

This movement of the spectator in the exhibition space cannot be arbitrarily stopped because it has an essential function in the perception of the installation. We are as unable to stabilize a copy as a copy — as we are unable to stabilize an original as an original. Since then, topologj concept of aura has made an astonishing philosophical carrier, yet largely as part of booris famous formula of the “loss of the aura” characterizing the fate of the original in the modern age.

O it becomes relatively easy to characterize the place that the contemporary installation occupies in relationship to the modernist claim to truth and to its postmodern deconstruction. But if an installation contejporary a space where the differentiation between original and copy, innovation and repetition, past and future takes place, could we speak of an individual installation itself as being original or new?

I think the question of aura is an interesting one that will most certainly be discussed at length and the topic of aura in craft products is an interesting one.