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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 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 this second volume, under a borrowed sub- title from Giorgio Agamben, addresses to Art. In four essays – punctuated by shorter texts on Derrida’s letters and Cixous’ recent auto-fictional works – the writing patiently observes how each work in the small corpus gives a new sense to the term and is a singular creation of a unique instance of “contemporaneity.”

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 January 2020 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-992-0
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $39.9
Release Date: March 2023
Page Extent / Format: 180 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


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