One of the great challenges for anyone engaged with contemporary art is how to make sense of its immediate prehistory and implications. The recently published anthologyContemporary Art: 1989 to the Present (edited by Alexander Dumbadze and Suzanne Hudson, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) brings together newly commissioned essays by fifty leading voices in contemporary art to thematically and polemically assess art and its contexts of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Rather than imposing a single story, the book generates a picture of a heterogeneous whole by incorporating specific positions founded upon disparate practices, locations, and philosophies.
This conversation at the New Museum between the editors and several of the volume’s authors will further pursue the book’s spirit of inquiry. Building upon the investigatory nature of “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” as well as the New Museum’s own institutional history, this program asks what is at stake in historicizing the art and theory of the recent past; what can be gained from this endeavor; what are the potential pitfalls and complications of this activity; and, most importantly, how it is possible to put forward a working definition of contemporary art?