Postmodernism – prospering and thriving? Not quite, however, it is still alive. The period is no longer in its prime, as much has been brought anew since the term was first introduced. Although, the characteristics that are embodied through the postmodern era are still present. Nicholas Bourriad, curator and art critic, may refute this statement, as he suggests that, “we are on the verge of a leap, out of the postmodern period.” Alternatively, Bourriad has dubbed the present period as, “Altermodernism.” To reflect my thoughts on the matter, interpreted as written in a tired tone, Julia Campbell states, “Yes, another –ism.”
Altermodernism, while having valid arguments to support Bourriad’s new period, does not reflect present day in the way that postmodernism does. Essentially, altermodernism is just another term that confuses the understanding of the modern era. Undoubtedly, society has changed since postmodernism was first introduced. Yet, despite the inevitable changes that come with new periods in time, postmodernism continues to be relevant in the present. Another, “-ism” as Julia says, should be retained until postmodernism can no longer accurately represent the current time.
To explore, and further demonstrate the postmodern modes employed into current culture, I have looked to an icon who represents current postmodernism in its entirety: Lana Del Rey. Her style and music attribute aesthetic modes of postmodernism, while being used in a modern context. Her music is reminiscent of by-gone eras, such as the 1950s, yet uses ideas from genres, such as trap or hip-hop. Further, she uses pastiche in many of her songs, nodding to Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. By incorporating subtle similarities to iconic artists and celebrities, while using present themes in her music, Lana Del Rey’s work can be classified as postmodern. As a popular artist, the aspects of postmodernism that are present in her work then become intertwined in current culture and society, as listeners engage with her music.
Julia Campbell mentions in, “Chivalry is dead, and so is Postmodernism,” the destruction of the, “Meta-narrative,” as suggested by Jean-Francois Lyotard, is imperative to postmodernism. If this has, “lead to a society composed of individual micro-narratives in which history [is] called upon in order to reconcile a sense of truth,” as Julia writes, then I would attest that we are still living in this time period. We have not stopped turning to history to constitute truthfulness in current society, and perhaps more so than ever, dispose of meta-narratives and look to the past.
Postmodernism continues to represent the present time period, and will perhaps carry out much further into the future. Bourriad’s altermodernism cannot be reflective of society, and likely never will be, in the way that postmodernism has. And if at any point, postmodernism has retreated to the same by-gone feeling associated with modernism, it has revealed itself as relevant once again- and so it seems, it is here to stay.
Feature Image: Lana Del Rey