Over the past few decades, cultural analysis has focused on developing terms to explain the surpassing of modernity. Discussion is stranded in an impasse between those who view the term modernity with automatic disdain—as deterministic, Eurocentric or imperialistic—and a booming interest that is renewing the study of modernism. Another dilemma is that the urge to move away from, or beyond, modernity arises because it is viewed as difficult, even unsavoury. Yet, there has always been a view of modernity as somehow difficult to live with, and that has been said by figures we regard today as typical modernists.
In Surpassing Modernity, McNamara argues that it is time to forget the quest to surpass modernity. Instead, we should re-examine a legacy that continues to inform our artistic conceptions, our political debates, our critical justifications, even if that legacy is baffling and contradictory. We may find it difficult to live with, but without recourse to this legacy, our critical-cultural ambitions would remain seriously diminished.
Andrew McNamara teaches art history at Queensland University of Technology. Apart from Surpassing Modernity, his next publication will be Bauhaus Diaspora, with Ann Stephen and Philip Goad, tracing the Bauhaus legacy in Australia through art education (July 2019).
The lecture will be held on Thursday the 9th May from 6pm at Buxton Contemporary. The event is free to attend.
Register your interest HERE.