Monthly Archives: April 2011

The post-postmodern era has begun?

The current trends, motives and messages of art have ventured so far away from the original postmodernism that the contemporary art can no longer be called postmodern, postulates the French curator Nicolas Bourriaud.

The beginning of this suggested new, ‘altermodern’, era was the Tate Triennal exhibition at 2009. Altermoderism is suggested to deal with the following concepts:

The conflict between the global and local no longer dominates. A different relationship to culture and identity is suggested. We are no longer bound to a nation at a given time. The concept of identity is ‘creolized’, i.e. bits and pieces are gathered here and there. The individual places have lost their concrete meaning due to increased communication, travel and migration. Journey, movement is depicted, across both space and time.

The exhibition itself in Tate Modern had eight themes:



-viatorization (viator=to travel – gives movement and dynamics to form)


-archive (contemporary/history mixed)


-heterochronia (existing within many times)


Time will tell if the concept catches wind. Hanba is puzzled by the term itself. Alter modern as in alter ego? Different modern? Or alter as in the German word for old? Old modern? Why choose to call the era modern at all? If we really are past both the modern project as well as the critique therof, why even bother with the word modern? Why these nine themes? Is alter modern a thematically narrow era? Surely art can deal with other themes than these nine?

Still, hanba’s excited to think the times are finally changing… 🙂 Personally not interested in any more critique of the modern project or puzzling intertextuality for the ‘already salvaged’.

Examples of artists? Walead Beshty, Bob and Roberta Smith, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Fatimah Tuggar.

Further reading: Tate Modern’s Alter Modern exhibition page.


From Freud to Neuronovel

Do you, behind your computer screen, consist of a set of dopaminergic, GABAergic, noradrenergic neurons firing in a haphazard manner? Consider this suggestion for a minute. Many of us feel an instinctive repulsion towars this thought. Surely there must be more than that? Some, on the other hand, may feel comfort in the thought – this is all we are, phew! There is something that takes the ‘blame’ away from human mistakes or ‘sins’ if it’s all just a matter of chemistry.

People asking themselves how to view the human mind generally fall under one of two camps; the positivist and the hermeneutic. During the 60’s and 70′, many psychologists, social scientists as well as artists preferred the latter branch. The DSM III, a diagnostics manual used by the psychiatrists back then, was heavily influenced by Freud and people believing human behaviour could be interpreted through childhood traumata and different developmental phases of the ‘psyche’, or the ‘mind’.

Since, a more positivistic view has gained ground. Psychiatric conditions have been considered to arise from chemical imbalances, neurons firing astray and from other biological cues. This view has been supported by the Big Pharma, as in the concept of ‘chemical imbalance’ lies a promise of cure through a pill. The current version of the psychiatrists’ diagnostics manual, the DSM-IV, has been influenced by the Pharma. Some diagnoses, such as panic anxiety, became popular first after it was discovered that it can be treated with a specific drug (SSRI, selective serotonine uptake inhibitor).

The last years has seen a rise in ‘positivist literature’, where the human mind is described as ‘neurons firing’,  where behaviour can be interpreted in terms of biological illness, such as flaws in DNA coding (for example through Huntington’s disease), or where encounters between people are reduced to quantum physics.

Here are some examples:

Ian McEwan: Enduring Love

Ian McEwan: Saturday

Mark Haddon: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

John Wray: Loveboy

(here I count even Juli Zeh’s: The Dark Matter)

Thus far, most ‘neuronovels’ have focused on characters with a disorder. Perhaps in the near future we can read about a ‘diagnose-free’ character whose whole life is explained in terms of neurons firing?  (If you already know of such a title, please recommend.)

Here’s some further reading about the neuronovel.

Gossip and art

Detest the yellow press and gossip? Bored with all the ‘stars’ who get their fifteen minutes of fame? Don’t really care for the chitchat and cocktail party yapping?

If you say yes, please consider the following scenario: you are an upcoming artist interested in gaining audience, wondering what way to go. In this situation, I’m not sure if I’d rather try to make my name the new buzzword, or submit my work to an authority figure for approval. The former requires social skills and the latter… well – it’s great if you please the authority figure, but if not, you’re out of the game.

Gossip is accessible, cheap and ‘democratic’, having bypassed authoritarian structures with a selected few as gatekeepers. And it’s the method of choice in today’s world, it seems. Luckily enough, hanba is not an artist.