Altermodernism at Tate Britain

Off Voice Fly Tip by Bob and Roberta Smith 2009
Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery. Photo: Tate Photography

WILLIAM SHAW: I know, like a few people, I start to twitch a little when Tate Triennial curator Nicolas Bouriaud explains his neologism Altermodern as a “dreamcatcher” for ideas about what happens to art after post-modernism – (see the video below) – but I find myself liking it anyway.

The winning thing about his Altermodern concept is that it admits it’s an aspiration as much as a piece of rigid critical analysis. In the one corner you have the idea art dealers’ idea of “emerging art markets”, which is an unpleasantly post-colonial notion at best.  In the other corner Bouriaud’s Altermodern at least aims for something better, something more equitable. On the Tate Altermodern site Bouriaud leaves the dreamcatcher aside and explains Altermodernism thusly:  “Altermodern is the cultural answer to what alter-globalisation is, a cluster of singular and local answers to globalisation.”

Which is good, no? As such, as an attempt at ethical response to post-modernism, it’s bound to stir up the cynics. 


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