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On Contemporaneity, after Agamben

Art in the time that remains …

Zsuzsa Baross, Professor Emerita of Cultural Theory at Trent University, Canada, is the author of The Scandal of Disease in Theory and Discourse (University of Amsterdam, 1988), Posthumously: For Jacques Derrida (SAP, 2010), and Encounters: Gérard Titus-Carmel, Jean-Luc Nancy, Claire Denis. She has published a wide number of essays in anthologies and journals, including International Studies in Philosophy, New Literary History and Derrida Today. Recently she has been collaborating and publishing with “Artistic Research”, Orpheus Instituut in Gent, Belgium.

If the philosopher Alain Badiou asks of what present are we the living witnesses in philosophy today, the writing in this second volume of essays addresses a related question to works of art today: what art can (still) be at the time of a global existential crisis, in a world living at the edge of, if not inexorably moving toward, a final ecological catastrophe? In four essays the author turns to works of art she considers critical with regard to this question of art situating itself at the limit: the last film of Jean-Luc Godard, Adieu au langage; Pasolini’s faux documentary, La Rabbia (Rage), a fragment of a Paul Celan poem, as questioned by Jacques Derrida, the plastic art of Abdel Abdemassad and Anselm Kiefer. She interrogates these chronologically disparate works with regard to their ‘contemporaneity’ as the concept was developed in the first volume: neither as representations or diagnoses of a present in a change of epoch, a word in crisis or at the edge of a catastrophe, nor as works that are symptomatic of such times and worlds. Instead, the writing metaphorically ‘listens to’ voices that arrive from inside a world without an exit as exemplary responses to the question: what art can (still) be at such times, in such worlds? What creation – new gesture or performative or language – can be commensurate with the intensity of forces pressing against such presents?

These are some of the questions that the four essays, which are punctuated by shorter texts on Derrida’s personal letters and Cixous’ auto-fictional writing following her mother’s death – raise with regards to the contemporaneity of art today: is the exigence – the critical task of contemporaneity – to be (un)timely, still actual or actualizable?

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-992-0
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $39.95
Release Date: June 2022 
Page Extent / Format: 180 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes
Art in the time that remains is the second of a two-volume publication. The first volume, The Concept and its Times (978-1-84519-991-3), was published April 2020.


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