Keynote lecture, The Contemporary Contemporary, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, 17 June 2017
This talk will address the question, “What does it mean to be a contemporary subject?” That is, “What does it mean to be at once a subject of the contemporary and subject to the contemporary, as a structure of historical time?” It will do so through a reconsideration of the mediated relations between the modern and the contemporary as temporal structures of subjectivity, from the standpoint of Émile Benveniste’s “general linguistic” account of subjectivity, and its relations to the verbal categories of tense, person and pronoun. It is in Adorno’s idea of the artwork as a “quasi-subject,” it will be argued, that the contradictory structure of generalised communication – actualised in a global contemporaneity – is most clearly exhibited.
Peter Osborne is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London. From 1983 to 2016, he was an editor of the British journal Radical Philosophy. He has contributed to a range of international journals (including Art History, Cultural Studies, New German Critique, New Left Review, October, Oxford Art Journal, Telos and Texte zur Kunst) and to the catalogues of major art institutions. In 2011, he was co-curator (with Marta Kuzma) of the Norwegian Representation at the 54th Venice Biennale. From 2013 to 2015 he was Principal Investigator on the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council project on Transdisciplinarity and the Humanities. His books include The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (1995; 2011), Philosophy in Cultural Theory (2000), Conceptual Art (2002), Marx (2005), El arte mas alla de la estetica: ensayos filosoficos sobre el arte contemporaneo (2010), Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (2013) and The Postconceptual Condition (forthcoming from Verso, autumn 2017).