the Tate Triennial 2009

Tate Britain

TRUE TO ITS FUNCTION as a naming ceremony of sorts, Nicolas Bourriaud’s Tate Triennial aimed at nothing less than inaugurating an alternative modernity. It understood itself as both harbinger and incarnation of this new cultural constellation and was premised on what Bourriaud calls “the emerging and ultimately irresistible will to create a form of modernism for the twenty-first century.” Fittingly for an exhibition predicated on a ringing declaration of a new epoch, “Altermodern” was surrounded on all sides by gestures of initiation, programmatic statements, and declarations of intent that ostensibly buttressed Bourriaud’s assertions. The exhibition was preceded by not one but four “Prologues,” daylong events featuring lineups of artists, critics, and theorists and addressing the themes “Altermodern,” “Exiles,” “Travel,” and “Borders.” Serving as yet another prologue of sorts was a

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