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Call for Art Journal Texts on “the Contemporary”

posted by Christopher Howard — May 05, 2009

Katy Siegel is incoming editor-in-chief of Art Journal and associate professor of art history at Hunter College, City University of New York.

During my tenure as editor-in-chief of Art Journal, I would like to publish a wide-ranging series that assesses contemporary art—its making, exhibition, criticism, history, and social uses. This series could include the kind of state-of-the-field essays that have traditionally been written about historical areas of study for The Art Bulletin. It could also mean more focused historiographic subjects, such as the evolution of “the contemporary” or the rise and fall of postmodernism. Or theoretical discussions of, for example, the relationships between the modern and the contemporary (questions of periodization being of special interest), or more speculative considerations of the changing role of contemporary art in current economic, technological, and social conditions.

I welcome approaches that are ambitious and generalizing, but since “the contemporary” is not really a single unified disciplinary object, I am also seeking writing that is partisan and partial, local and medium-specific. While one person might approach postmodernism from a historical perspective, as an object in the past, another might argue for its continuing validity under current conditions. Different authors might investigate the social meaning of “the contemporary” as opposed to the modern in particular countries at particular moments (the US at midcentury, China today), or for particular institutions, such as the museum, biennial exhibition, or university/college course.

I would like to hear from curators, teachers, critics, and artists about their own concrete experiences in relation to these large, abstract questions. I am interested not only in a wide range of topics, but also a diversity of approaches to those topics: art criticism, discussions, shorter polemical essays, and artists’ projects are all possibilities in addition to the scholarly article.

For more information, please write to