Contemporary stagnation

Jonathan T.D. Neil on periodising the 'contemporary' in contemporary art, from the December 2015 issue

By Jonathan T.D. Neil

‘We cannot not periodize.’ So goes one of Fredric Jameson’s maxims from his short theoretical essay ‘A Singular Modernity’ (2002). I find myself returning to this text often in order to come to terms with the advent of what we call the ‘contemporary’ in contemporary art. If periodise we must, then what to do with the contemporary?A quick look at university syllabi on the topic, most from art-history departments, shows no genuine consensus. (Market analysts generally accept that contemporary art…

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