You ask, what is contemporary art? (Thanks, Kristy!) This seemingly transparent question opens up a complex debate. Is "the contemporary" merely an historical, temporal designation, referencing the art of today and the recent past? Or are there other criteria that might help us identify a particular set of features that define art of the contemporary period? In other words, how might we begin to historicize contemporary art by defining it in relation to the political and social conditions of the present?
Here is a reading assignment to
work through over the rest of the semester: "Questionnaire on 'The
Contemporary'" from the Fall, 2009 issue of October. MIT press allows a free download.