Altermodernism, a Fraction of Postmodernism

Where is our society at today in terms of modernism? Well, according to Nicholas Bourriad, we have entered into a period known as “Altermodernism”. As our current society continues to evolve and progress towards what would likely be considered modernity, perhaps Bourriad is right. Society is in constant flux, and with constant flux often comes a need for identification. Since Postmodernism is a complex and constantly questioned period with various aspects, Altermodernism is more of a “sub-period” to Postmodernism, rather than a period of its own.

According to Julia Campbell and Madeline Braney, Altermodernism is just “another –ism” which is likely a possible viewpoint. However, due to the complexity and many layers of Postmodernism, perhaps this viewpoint is not altogether accurate. What if Altermodernism were to be seen as a division of Postmodernism, rather than a period of its own? There is actually some accuracy to this possibility. As Braney quoted Bourriad: “We are on the verge of a leap, out of the postmodern period”, it is largely possible that Altermodernism is essentially, a branch of Postmodernism – the end of the Postmodern era, rather than an era of its own. Altermodernity still comprises largely of various Postmodern aspects, therefore it is not quite capable of being an era of its own accord.

Braney utilizes Lana Del Rey, a musical icon, as an example of Postmodernity and its aesthetic modes in our current society and culture. Lana Del Rey, is most definitely a Postmodern artist as her music is nostalgically influenced by older musical eras and incorporates pastiche in reference to previous iconic figures. However, art forms, like culture, are in constant flux and evolution. Artists continue to explore new methods, means and approaches to their creations. To this day, many artists are ahead of their time. Consider Jenny Holzer, an artist who makes stern social commentary through poetic verse, mottos, and challenging phrases projected onto buildings or etched into benches. She creates twisted political slogans that are often misunderstood or have yet to be understood by current society. Additionally, consider Iza Genzken, who’s artistic evolution (from using computers to create large sculptures or taking x-rays of her skull while smoking) consistently critiques the cultural realms of current society. These artists, contrary to the Postmodern likes of Lana Del Rey, are attempting to move into a more modern future, hence the valid application of Bourriad’s Altermodernism. These artists are moving away from Postmodernism and are attempting to enter the elusive Modern era.

Although Postmodernism is still culturally relevant in numerous ways, our ever evolving society is slowly achieving the less distant Modernity as individuals continue to question, revolutionize and invent new ideas, concepts and art. The concept of Bourriad’s Altermodernism is a way in which to describe the end of Postmodernity. Much like with any time period, Postmodernism cannot last forever, especially with the ongoing pursuit for progression. Therefore, Altermodernity is not the transitional period between Postmodernity and Modernity, but rather, the passing out of Postmodernity.

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