In his essay and art exhibit, ‘Altermodern’, Nicolas Bourriaud shows how contemporary art has evolved due to globalization as society has grown to resemble an archipelago wherein territories are interconnected but individual. The contemporary art of his time is altermodern art, a synthesis of modernism and post-colonialism, whose message is largely dependent on the work’s social context. Rather than viewing history as linear (modernism) or as a loop (postmodernism), the altermodern works as a nomad traveling chaotically through time and space in order to explore present society and question the nature of contemporary art.
One question which this work provokes is how individual culture and identity can be shared and celebrated in our globalized and economically driven society without succumbing to standardization. Altermodernism draws on global cultures in order to revert the modern tradition wherein Western culture shapes international popular culture. The danger when combining many cultures into contemporary art is that the aspects of each unique culture will be lost. Bourriaud’s ‘Altermodern’ exhibit faces this challenge as it explores elements of other cultures in relation to themes such as migration. One artist included in Bourriaud’s ‘Altermodern’ exhibit is Subohd Gupta. He creates massive modern sculptures similar to those of Jeff Koons using traditional Indian cooking utensils. This incorporation of Eastern culture into a Western style comments on the interconnectivity of global society. However, since most of the art pieces in Bourriaud’s exhibit are created in the Western style and commercialized in capitalist societies, I wonder whether this movement truly engages the world on a global level or simply assumes other cultural practices into the Western economy of art. While Bourriaud’s exhibit is meant to convey the themes of travel and globalization, it is unclear whether it effectively includes other cultures
in this discussion.