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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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. But at the same time an installation can not be truly new — simply because it can not be immediately compared to other, earlier, older installations. So to rightly characterize the nature of contemporary art it seems to be necessary to situate it in its relationship to the Modern project and to its post-modern reevaluation.

The post-modern criticism put this unconditional claim into question — but without asking about the conditions of truth understood as presence, as unconcealment. The installation is, above all, a socially codified variation of individual flaneurship as it was described by Benjamin, and therefore, a place for the aura, for “profane contempoarry. Modern art was working on the level of an individual form. Further, this implies for Kierkegaard that Christ is really new and not merely recognizably different-and that Christianity is a manifestation of difference beyond difference.

More important the installation is in itself, as it was already said, a space of decision making — and first of contemporwry of decisions concerning the differentiation between old and new, traditional and innovative.

It bpris also no accident that the vocabulary constantly used by the historical avant-garde is the language of iconoclasm. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: The installation thus demonstrates the material hardware of civilization that would otherwise go unnoticed behind the surface of image circulation in the mass media. Not accidentally, the famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin became so influential during these post-modern decades.

Thus notions of originality or newness are irrelevant. The installation demonstrates a certain selection, a certain chain of choices, a certain logic of inclusions and exclusions.

In their relationship to the outside space the same images and objects can be seen as revealing and at the same time concealing their status of being merely the items of the potentially infinite sequences of repetition and reproduction. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. 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.

In this sense, a copy is never really a copy — but rather always a new original in a new context. When is a copy just a copy?


And it is born precisely for the same reason it is lost. What differentiates contemporary art from previous times is only the fact that the originality of a work in our time is not established depending on its own form, but through its inclusion in a certain context, in a certain installation, through its topological inscription. Even if an installation consists of one individual painting, it is still an installation, since the crucial aspect of the painting as an artwork is not the fact that it was produced by an artist but that it was selected by an artist and presented as something selected.

Being open is not the same thing as being all-inclusive. 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.

Notify me of new comments via email. 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”. And this decision is always a contemporary decision — a decision that belongs not to the past and not to the future but to the present.

The infinite is, on the contrary, not open because it has no outside. A video or film installation secularizes the conditions of film presentation.

That shows very clearly contemporaty a film is radically, essentially changed by being put under the conditions of an installation visit — being a fontemporary copy the film becomes a different original. 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.

The novel was a literary form that included all other literary forms of that time — and the installation is an art form that includes all other contemporary art forms.

The contemporary artistic installation has a goal to present the scene, the ocntemporary, the strategy of this differentiation as it takes place here and now — that is why it can be called genuinely contemporary, indeed. The contemporary “contemporary art” privileges the present in respect to the future and to the past. The installation takes a copy out of an allegedly unmarked, open space of anonymous circulation and puts it — even if only temporarily — in a fixed, stable, closed context of booris well-defined “here and now”.

In both cases the context decides about the newness — and in both cases we cannot rely on an established, griys 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 Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys | alfredcrucible

That is because for Benjamin mass reproduction and not the creation of the new constitutes Modernity. The installation reveals precisely the materiality of the civilization in which we contempofary, because it installs everything that our civilization simply circulates. 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.


Should he or she stand still and allow the pictures to play before him as in a movie theatre, or move further? I am a little confused about the copy talk. I really need more topoligy I suppose before discussion.

Is his assertion less relevant 8 years later, cintemporary the preponderance of technology has made virtual experience a part of daily life — perhaps desensitizing the viewer to the change in media.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys

Their status as copies becomes therefore to be just a cultural convention — as it was earlier the status of the original. In terms of political voice, can a non-installation artwork create a comparable impact to that of installation? 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.

Every copy is by itself a flaneur — and experiences time and again its own “profane illuminations” turning it into an original. 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. Contemporaty genuinely creative artist was supposed to effectuate a radical break with the past, to erase, to destroy the past, to achieve a zero point of artistic tradition — and by doing so to give a new start to a new future.

But if the difference between original and copy is only a topological one — that means if it is only a difference between a closed, fixed, marked, auratic context and an open, unmarked, profane space of anonymous mass circulation — then not only the operation of dislocation and deterritorialisation of the original is possible, but also the operation of relocation and reterritorialisation of the copy.

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. Is anyone interested in getting together with me and we can discuss a little more before we get to class, not this time since class is tomorrow but some cojtemporary time?

In contrast to Modernism, the post-modern project recognizes the transformative nature of time and cohtemporary, while utilizing mechanical and technological reproduction to re-contextualize objects.