photo: Guy Tillim
Presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba enters a stadium in central Kinshasa flanked by his bodyguards, July 2006
Nicolas Bourriaud writes:
[…] Many signs suggest that the hsitorical period defined by postmodernism is coming to an end: multiculturalism and the discourse of identity is being overtaken by a planetary movement of creolisation; cultural relativism and deconstruction, substituted for modernist universalism, give us no wapens agains the twofold treat of uniformity and mass culture and traditionalist, far-right, withdrawal.
The times seem propitious for the recomposition of a modernity in the present, reconfigured according to the specific context within which we live – crucially in the age of globalisation – understood in its economic, political and cultural aspects: an altermodernity.
If twentieth-century modernism was above all a western cultural phenomenon, altermodernity arises out of planetary negotiations, discussions between agents from different cultures. Stripped of a centre, it can only be polyglot. altermodernity is characterised by translation, unlike the modernism of the twentieth century which spoke the abstract language of the colonial west, and postmodernism, which ncloses artistic phenomena in origines and identities.
[…] altermodern art is thus read as a hypertext; artists translate and transcode information from one format to another, and wander in geography as well as in history. This gives rise to practices which might be referred to as ‘time-specific’, in response to the ‘site-specific’ work of the 1960s. Flight-lines translation programmes and chains of heterogeneous elements articulate each other. Our universe beomes a territory all dimensions of which may be travelled both in time and space. […]
Bourriaud (2008) Altermodern, Tate Triennial 2009 Prologue 1, London:Tate.
The altermodernity is a modernity seen from the present in contrast to a modernity pointing to the past (for example the Documenta 12). He described the present modernity as a ‘entangled process’ and as ‘flawed post colonial entangled landscape’, a collision of worlds, zones, where every place is a centre, a space of the middle, not near or far, east or west, not eurocentric.
Modernity as an expression of capitalism linking power, violence, sovereinity and autonomy, while using the language of the enlightenment: freedom, progress, democracy,
Four zones or layers of modernity:
1) Zone of super modernity: fundamental to capitalism and its world dominance, Euro-american export.
2) Zone of developing modernity: deeply embedded in the process of modernisation, i.e. Asia, but also anti-modern, anti colonial in the use of there own language
3) Zone of absent modernity: opposite of modernity, devoid, erased or failed modernity, i.e. Africa
4) Zone of anti modern: state of rebellion against modernism, ie. Islamic fundamentalism, [anti globalisation movement].
I am not shure that a catagorisation like this is any helpfull other than showing a American-western point of view that is embedded into any discussion about modernism. The images he showed were photos of… examplifying a promice and a nadir of modernity, broken pieces of post colonial utopia. Modernist architecture highrise buildings wrecked and falling apart, a failed modernisation. Great photos but not from a different point of view than photos of Guy Tillim or George Osodi at the Documenta 12 he found ‘modernity pointing to the past’.