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Contemporaneity as Calculus

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How do we write a history of contemporary art? Globalisation is frequently identified as a major characteristic of contemporary art since the late 1980s, yet it remains wedded to notions of progress and innovation, as well as to a centre-versus-periphery world-view that presumes the belatedness of those living and working in the alleged margins. This article proposes rates of change as an alternative model through which to rethink contemporaneity, particularly when considering art from the so-called ‘margins’. Of special importance are issues pertaining to questions of medium and genre, both of which might be regarded as indices of the extent to which change took place. By way of a case study, this article focuses on the postwar Korean artworld from 1953 to 1975, a time and place distinguished by the confluence of two distinct, yet symbiotic, rates of change: acceleration and delay.
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Keywords: Japan; Lee Ufan; Mono-ha; North Korea; Shim Moon-seop; South Korea; Tansaekhwa; colonial art history; contemporaneity; contemporary art; genre; painting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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