The Global Identity: A Response to Bourriaud’s “Altermodern”

In his article “Altermodern”, Bourriaud develops the idea that postmodernism has come to an end and in its place, a new modernism is emerging, one that understands and makes use of globalization and the new-found mobility of ideas and culture. No longer is art restricted to a single identity highlighted by a specific cultural code, but is connected to many identities worldwide in a geographical, temporal, and cultural sense.  Given the idea of globalization and the divergence of cultures, a question arises about what identity means today.

Where do our identities come from in a world that has become a swirling mass of information, ideas, and cultural signs?

It is clear that Bourriaud is of the opinion that identity derived from a single cultural background, rooted in a specific geographical region, is a thing of the past. With the rise of the internet, which has the ability to connect each person to the world in its entirety, facilitated means of travel, and rising immigration rates, it would seem as though national borders have dissolved, creating a fluidity of culture, no longer belonging to anyone in particular, but instead shared globally.

Bourriaud describes this new modernity as a translation that allows geography, history, and culture to be connected to all people, which gives each person equal claim to identify with each. Therefore the altermodern, almost in a Sartrean sense, gives us the ability to create our own identity instead of having one thrust upon us based on the social and cultural norms of the region where we reside. We construct our identities through an amalgamation of culture from ancestral roots, culture from our birthplace, and adopted culture obtained through travel or from the media. In this way, altermodern identities are unique because they are built by the individual themselves instead of the society that surrounds them.

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