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 practice of the historical avant-garde was based on the equation that was already formulated by Bakunin, Stirner and Nietzsche: Groyx installation is, as it was already said, a finite space of presence where different images and objects are arranged and exhibited. Not accidentally, the famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin became so influential during these post-modern decades.

Abolishing traditions, breaking with conventions, destroying old art and eradicating out-dated values were the slogans of the day. A certain film footage can be shown in a cinema theater, then converted to a digital form and appear on somebody’s web site, or be shown during a conference as an illustration, or watched privately on a TV — screen in a person’s living room, or put in a context of a museum installation.

And this kind of reproduction infects the creative act from the beginning. The usual accent on the loss of the aura is, on one hand, totally legitimate, and certainly in tune with the overall intention of Benjamin’s text.

They are here and now — and they are thoroughly visible, given, unconcealed. Being open is not the same thing as being all-inclusive. A creative act if it is understood as an iconoclastic gesture presupposes a permanent reproduction of the context in which this act is effectuated. The contemporary “contemporary art” privileges the present in respect to the future and to the past. And that is the main problem of Benjamin’s thinking: The installation that nowadays became the leading art goys in the framework of contemporary art operates as a reversal of reproduction.

Are we dealing all the time with the borie film footage? The mere fact that a modernist artwork is still recognizable as an artwork means namely that this artwork reproduces the general conditions of recognizability of an artwork as artwork — even if a form of this artwork seems to be quite original.

Installation in my opinion by the way is not an object but is a complete transformation of space and time.

The topology of today’s networks of communication, of generation, translation and distribution of images is extremely heterogeneous. Indeed, in his text Benjamin starts from the possibility of contemporarg perfect reproduction which would no longer allow any “material,” visually recognizable difference between original and copy.


The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys

We can even say that, under the condition of the modern museum, the newness of newly produced art is not established post factum-as a result of a comparison with old art. The iconoclastic images of destruction and reduction were destined to serve as the contemporayr of the future. And the original has an aura because it has a fixed topoloy, a well defined place in space, and through that particular place it is inscribed also in history as a singular, original object.

Rather, today’s contemporary art demonstrates the way in which the contemporary as such shows itself — the act of presenting the present.

The iconoclastic and the new can only be recognized by the art historically informed, museum-trained gaze. That is also why post-modern art is able to look very new even if — or actually because — xontemporary is directed against the notion of the new.

The installation is, above all, a socially codified variation of individual flaneurship as it was described by Benjamin, and therefore, a place for the aura, for “profane illumination. That is why contemporary art is less production of individual artworks than it is manifestation of an individual decision to include or to exclude things and images that circulate anonymously in our world- to give them a new context or to deny it to them: Contemporwry if an installation consists of one individual painting, it is still an installation, since the crucial aspect of the painting as an artwork is not the fact that it was produced by an artist but that it was selected by an artist and presented as something selected.

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

But if an installation is a space where the differentiation contempotary original and copy, innovation and repetition, past and future goris place, could we speak of an individual installation itself as being original or new? Benjamin overlooked the topo,ogy — and even unavoidability — of reauratisations, relocations and new topological inscriptions of a copy gorys he shared with high modern art the belief in a unique, normative context of art.

It remains maybe the same copy — but it becomes different originals. This movement of the spectator in the exhibition space cannot be arbitrarily stopped because it has an essential function in the perception of the installation.

In this way through different contexts and media this film footage is transformed by different program languages, different softwares, different framings on the screen, different placement in an installation space, etc. We can contemporar that Christ according to Kierkegaard is a readymade among Gods — like Duchamp’s urinoire was a readymade among artworks.


The time of contemplation must be continually renegotiated between artist and spectator. In their relationship to the outside space the same images and objects can be seen as revealing and at the same time concealing their status of being merely the items of the potentially infinite sequences of repetition and reproduction.

But postmodernist art does not formulate any own claim to truth remaining exclusively critical and deconstructive. Have the prints become originals, especially as they all might be slightly different, or still just different versions of copies?

This artistic space of the installation may be a museum or art gallery, but also a private studio, or a home, or a building site.

The growing importance of the installation as an art form is in a very obvious way connected to the re-politisation of art that we could experience in the recent years. By circulating through the different contexts a copy becomes a series of different originals. And he insists on the permanent visual recognizability, on the ckntemporary of a copy as it circulates in our contemporary culture.

The topolofy reveals precisely the materiality of the civilization in which we live, because it installs everything that our civilization simply circulates.

This site uses cookies. The artist was supposed to embody “active nihilism” — the nothingness that originates everything.

The closure is here not an opposition to the openness but its precondition. Benjamin suggested that horis new technology is able to make a copy more and more identical to the original. Our decision to recognize a certain image as an original or as a copy is dependent on the context — on the scene where this decision is taken.

In the video installation where a video is moving in a loop the spectator may move about freely in the room and leave or return at any time. And this decision is always a contemporary decision conremporary a decision that belongs not to the past and not to the future but to the present.

The Topology of Contemporary Art: Boris Groys | alfredcrucible

This conflict designates the installation space as an area for decision making, thus lending itself well to political artwork. As we all know, in his essay Benjamin introduces the concept of aura to describe the difference between original and copy under the conditions of perfect technical reproducibility. You are commenting using your WordPress. 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 for the visitor: