PRINT September 2011


Gianni Colombo, Spazio elastico (Elastic Space), 1967, fluorescent elastic bands, electric engines, Wood’s lamp. Installation view, Central Pavilion, Venice. From “ILLUMInations.”

AMONG THE MORE PUZZLING PREOCCUPATIONS of dialogues around art during the past five years has been “the contemporary,” a seemingly self-evident description that, to date, has operated largely in reverse—that has been put forward, in other words, as a meaningful denomination and subject of inquiry in advance of any actual, deductive relationship to the surrounding world. The hope, it would seem, is that the term employed by itself, and evocatively, will help tease out some general understanding of the conditions for artmaking and its reception today. Yet, unlikely as this might be, the impulse is easy enough to fathom: Artists, art historians, curators, and critics alike wish to find historical trajectories in art today where none immediately announce themselves; a disorienting air of atemporality prevails instead. Indeed, the imperative for historical precedent or distinction

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