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Surpassing Modernity : Ambivalence in Art, Politics and Society - Andrew McNamara

Surpassing Modernity

Ambivalence in Art, Politics and Society

Paperback Published: 29th November 2018
ISBN: 9781350008342
Number Of Pages: 224

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For the past thirty to forty years, cultural analysis has focused on developing terms to explain the surpassing of modernity. Discussion is stranded in an impasse between those who view the term modernity with automatic disdain-as deterministic, Eurocentric or imperialistic-and a booming interest that is renewing the study of modernism.

Another dilemma is that the urge to move away from, or beyond, modernity arises because it is viewed as difficult, even unsavoury. Yet, there has always been a view of modernity as somehow difficult to live with, and that has been said by figures we regard today as typical modernists.

McNamara argues in this book that it is time to forget the quest to surpass modernity. Instead, we should re-examine a legacy that continues to inform our artistic conceptions, our political debates, our critical justifications, even if that legacy is baffling and contradictory. We may find it difficult to live with, but without recourse to this legacy, our critical-cultural ambitions would remain seriously diminished.

How do we explain the culture we live in today? And how do we, as citizens, make sense of it? This book suggests these questions have become increasingly difficult to answer.

Industry Reviews

“Andrew McNamara has written a compelling book that situates the thirst for novelty that grew among vanguardist, cosmopolitan elites in the late 1980s and 1990s. Directing their animus against modernism, these thinkers, art historians and artists strove for a surpassing of the allegedly oppressive principles of modernist aesthetics. The novelty of surpassing modernism has worn off in an age of austerity, when the social democratic institutions that supported modernist experiments are in decay. McNamara does not offer a new term with which to deal with the historical thirst for the new: working in a highly interdisciplinary manner, he frames globalization of contemporary art practices in revealing and disquieting ways.”
Catherine Liu, Professor of Visual Studies and Film Studies, University of California, Irvine, USA

“Andrew McNamara has made a timely and important intervention in debates about the nature of contemporary art, and its contested relationship to the tradition of modernism. His book represents a challenge to many received ideas about that relation, and offers stimulating new perspectives for thinking about art in a global context.”
Paul Wood, Research Associate in Art History, the Open University, UK

“McNamara's critical examination of the wish to “surpass” a period or movement defined as “modernist” argues that such redundant one-upmanship is futile. A new critical vocabulary is needed to avoid conceptual dead-ends. Analyses of practices defined as “anti-aesthetic” or “contemporary” take us from Sigmar Polke to Mustapha Benfodil, from Pussy Riot to Ai Wei Wei, from Doha to Sharjah and Australia. Biological or chemical ways of thinking can push art history beyond the surpassing mode. McNamara is always passionate, infectious, challenging and brilliant. Surpassing Modernity will leave a lasting mark.”
Jean-Michel Rabaté, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Introduction: the Surpassing Paradigm
Chapter One
What Are We Talking About? A Landscape in which Nothing was the Same Except the Clouds
Chapter Two
Petty-bourgeois Revolutionaries: Reflections on Polke's Wir Kleinburger! (We Petty Bourgeois!)
Chapter Three
What is Art Supposed to Do? The Modernist Legacy, the Arab Spring, a Censorship Case in Sharjah, and Artist Arrests in the Year of the Protestor
Chapter Four
Inversions, Conversions, Aberrations: Visual Acuity and the Erratic Chemistry of Art-historical Transmission in a Transcultural Situation

ISBN: 9781350008342
ISBN-10: 1350008346
Audience: BAC
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 29th November 2018
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.4 x 13.8  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.33
Edition Number: 1

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