The Changing Constitution of the Present
Essays on the Work of Art in Times of Contemporaneity
184 pp., 5 x 7 in, 50 color illus.
- Published: November 15, 2022
How our experience of presence, time, and history is articulated in contemporary artistic practices.
Our present is defined by contemporaneity: the interconnection of heterogeneous times, histories, and temporalities. These many and various times do not merely exist in parallel with one another, simultaneously. Rather, they interconnect and are brought to bear on the same present, forming a sort of planetary present, and—at least in principle—a global sharing of time, although one not shared equally. In The Changing Constitution of the Present: Essays on the Work of Art in Times of Contemporaneity, Jacob Lund explores how the conditions for politically engaged art and aesthetic practice, for questioning the present, have changed in recent decades, while considering how our historical present and its temporal quality differ significantly from previous presents.
Jacob Lund's powerful analysis of the temporal complexity of our global present not only guides readers through digital and analog simultaneities and trauma-invigorated decolonial practices in art and society. It also declares the falsely proclaimed "end of (art) history" as obsolete. Instead, it opens up a perspective on much needed futures in which struggles and narratives that have been interrupted in history are revived. An indispensable read on "contemporaneity."
Nina Möntmann, University of Cologne
When we suspend the linearity of chrono-logic, the contemporary in which we live does not lose its historical specificity. On the contrary. This book argues that the experience of time in the present enables the many tentacles of time to spread out, and the forms of art to make their impact. And this includes the past, but not in a development narrative. Art, past and present, is with us, now. That is its contemporaneity. Lund's book refreshes our thinking in this way.
Mieke Bal, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis
The present is marked by a contradictory experience of time, torn between the tendencies toward its synchronization and standardization in the networks of global capitalism on the one hand and a heightened awareness of the co-presence of multiple lived temporalities on the other. Critical contemporary art that deserves the name, we can learn from Jacob Lund's illuminating collection of essays, is invested in sharpening that contradiction into political opposition.
Juliane Rebentisch, University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main
Jacob Lund was among the first to grasp that multifaceted, multitemporal contemporaneity is definitive of the current state of world being. The essays collected in this volume, written over the past decade, show him becoming one of its most original interpreters. He is especially insightful on the multiple mediums through which "the contemporary contemporary" operates, and on the work of its most consequential artists, among them Jean-Luc Godard, Alfredo Jaar, Thomas Hirschhorn, Hito Steyerl, Kader Attia, Trevor Paglen, and Forensic Architecture.
Terry Smith, European Graduate School