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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The situation of the “mechanical reproduction” in the context of, let us say, grots Internet looks no less difficult — maybe even more difficult. And to transmit an information from one generation of hardware and software to a next generation means to transform it in a significant way.

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. Reproduction means dislocation, deterritorialisation, yroys transports artworks to networks of topologically indeterminable circulation.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys | alfredcrucible

And more than that: In Modern age you negate either an artwork or its aura, its context — noris not both of them simultaneously. If an artist produces 2 pieces that are the same then the argument goes that one is a copy? But they are unconcealed only as long as they are parts of this individual installation. Being often enough characterized as “formalistic” Modernist art can hardly be defined in formal terms: The artist was supposed to embody “active nihilism” — the nothingness that originates everything.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys

And that means further: This artistic space of the installation may be a museum or art gallery, but also a private studio, topologyy a home, or a building site. 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. But to recognize a certain image as a truly iconoclastic one we have to be able to compare it with the traditional images, with the icons of the past.

According to Benjamin, in our age the contrmporary leaves its original context and begins to circulate anonymously in the networks of mass communication, reproduction and distribution.


Thus notions of originality or newness are irrelevant. The closure is here not an opposition to the openness but its precondition.

And he insists on the permanent visual recognizability, on the self-identity of a copy as it circulates in our contemporary culture. And that means that all the objects placed to;ology an installation are originals, even when — or precisely when — they circulate outside of the installation as copies. Today, the term “contemporary od does not simply designate art that is produced in our time.

Rather, today’s contemporary art demonstrates the way in which the contemporary as such shows itself — the act of presenting the present. Clearly a situation arises here in which the contradictory expectations of a visit to a movie theatre and a visit to an exhibition space create a conflict contemporay the visitor: The inclusion of the film footage into an artistic installation shows its transformative power in an especially obvious way.

But if an installation is a space where the differentiation between original and copy, innovation and repetition, past and future takes bors, could we speak of an individual installation itself as being original or new?

And precisely this claim to truth was put in question by post-modernist criticism: In other words, Benjamin describes the production of the mass culture as operating by a reversal of the “high” Modernist art strategy: That each media alteration creates a new original? Beyond this gorys claim to truth the modernist artwork looses its edge and becomes merely decorative whatever its form can be.

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

Since then, the concept of aura has made an astonishing philosophical carrier, yet largely as part of the famous formula of the “loss of the aura” characterizing the fate of the original in the modern age. 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.

The film spectator is not anymore immobilised, bound to a seat and left in the darkness — being supposed to watch a movie from its beginning to its end.

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. So for Kierkegaard, Christianity is based on the impossibility of recognizing Christ as God-the impossibility of recognizing Christ as visually different: The traditional art media are all defined by a specific material support for the medium: 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.


In fact, the aura, as described by Benjamin, only comes into being thanks to the modern technique of reproduction.

In the framework of contemporary culture an image is permanently circulating from one medium to another medium, and from one closed context to another closed context. The installation space can, of course, incorporate all kinds of things and images that circulate in our civilization: Every copy is by itself a flaneur — and experiences time and again its own “profane illuminations” turning it into an original.

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 other time? The installation thus demonstrates the material hardware of civilization that would otherwise go unnoticed behind the surface of image circulation in the mass media. This is why, paradoxically, the more you want to free yourself from the art tradition, the more you become subjected to the logic of the art historical narrative and to museum collecting.

But how does the contemporary installation relate to the recent controversy between Modern and Post-Modern art practices? That is why I would argue that the installation is the leading art form of contemporary art. It is also no accident that the vocabulary constantly used by the historical avant-garde is the language of iconoclasm. 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.

I am a little confused about the copy talk.