Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary

By Steven Connor

During this thoroughly revised and significantly extended re-creation, Steven Connor considers the new paintings of the main influential postmodern theorists, together with Lyotard and Jameson, and provides debts either one of the paintings of newly rising theorists and new parts of postmodernist tradition that have constructed during the last decade, specially in legislation, tune, dance, spatial idea, ethnography, ecology, and the recent applied sciences.

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The point of this exercise inhered in the  obviousness of the plagiarism, in the fact that the photographs which Levine 'confiscated' were so well known as to make it impossible for her really to be trying to  pass them off as her own. By making the act of confiscation manifest, Levine attempted to throw into confusion the conventional distinction by means of which the  concept of the art photograph can continue to function, the distinction between the high art 'original' work, on the one hand, and the public reproduction on the other. But the reverberations may go even further than this, for Levine's work may also be seen as a fundamental attack on capitalist conceptions of ownership and property,  along with the patriarchal identification of authorship with the assertion of self­sufficient maleness. sixty one Photography, therefore, is a specially revealing instance of the struggle between a modernist restricted field, with its stress on individuality, purity and essence, and the  postmodernist expanded field, with its embrace of the contingent conditions which attend upon photography as a social practice. It is not surprising to find that the  struggle of definitions in photography takes the form of a miniaturization of the struggle over definitions in the field of art as a whole, since photography stands at the  problematic edge of art, marking the point where absorption has to be defended against theatricality, the aesthetic against the non­aesthetic. Characteristic of all the forms of 'critical­pluralist' postmodernist theory that we have been looking at is its mistrust of the position of outsider, its belief that the only  space to operate is alongside and within the institutions of art itself. If there is no simple outside, then there is no simple way of setting aside modernist orthodoxies, as  the more optimistic forms of postmodernism such as Jencks's seem to suggest. These orthodoxies must be problematized, displaced, unsettled, rather than simply  forgotten. What is striking about these formulations is the closing of the gap that they require between art practice and criticism. In what is quite acknow­      Page 108 ledgedly a transgression of one of the most sacred boundaries of modernist aesthetics, that between the self­sufficient 'work' and the 'commentary' upon that work,  postmodernist art is characterized increasingly by means of the critical accounts that it can give of itself, or the forms of rapprochement that it can make with advanced  art theory. What remains unclear is whether this will really prove to be a means of resisting or challenging the forms of cultural power that are concentrated in art and its  institutions, or whether this merging of distinct realms, along with the abandonment of the avant­garde dream of the critical space 'outside' traditions and formations of  power, might not serve in the end as a strategic alliance to consolidate rather than to threaten the paradigms of art and art criticism. Notes 1. The Post­Modern Aura: The Act of Fiction in an Age of Inflation (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1985), p.

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