In June 2017 the Contemporary Condition research group at Aarhus University held the international conference “The Contemporary Contemporary: Representations and Experiences of Contemporaneity in and through Contemporary Arts Practice” at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. The title of the conference defines the point of departure of the present article. More precisely, this article finds its starting point in the inherent tautology represented by the idea of a contemporary contemporary. Logically, in fact, the contemporary cannot be other than such. The title of the conference, instead, suggests the possibility of contemporaneities other than the one we witness.
Under this light, the first “contemporary” used in the title – the adjective – acts according to the etymologic meaning of the word by defining what happens to occur together in time. This kind of contemporaneity is a merely descriptive one, grounding on the chronological coincidence of certain facts at certain moments in history. It is substantiated by a conception of the contemporary as the most recent present – in this almost coinciding with the very meaning of the word modern. It may not be a case that a similar terminological tautology also exists with reference to the word Neuzeit – Modernity – as pointed out by Reinhart Koselleck in the essay, “Remarks on Revolutionary Calendar and Neue Zeit ”. An adjectival take on the contemporary occurs every time the term is employed as a transversal proxy able to superficially encompass whatever does not belong to the past but to the most recent present. This is particularly frequent in the discourses concerning “the contemporary” in art. Such a take on the contemporary perfectly suits both revolutionary and remissive attitudes towards alternative futures. The example of Alexander Pushkin’s literary journal “Sovremennik” [the Contemporary] is meaningful here. The name of the journal, in fact, resisted all the different takes on the Tsarist regime of its directors after Pushkin’s death.
The second “contemporary” in the title – the noun – moves away from the definition of the temporal copresentness of the existent. Rather, the contemporary-noun ambitiously evokes the historical and critical periodizations where the concepts of (classical) antiquity and of modernity usually stand out. In this sense, the contemporary-noun opens to a discourse on contemporaneity understood as a specific form of historical time. “The contemporary” under discussion here is a privileged object of study for the discipline of the philosophy of history, and represents the critical bet after the demise of post-modernism as a valid critical concept.
My argument that the contemporary contemporary is extemporary takes its moves from Professor Peter Osborne’s philosophical construction of the contemporary. Three orders of premises on the title and on the tasks of my presentation must be pointed out now.
On the one hand, the idea of the extemporary is not an attempt to question the form of historical time represented by Osborne’s philosophical construction of the contemporary. Rather, the idea of an extemporary contemporary aims to highlight extemporaneity as a qualifying character of our contemporaneity. I am aware that if the idea of the contemporary contemporary is tautological, that of an extemporary contemporary is at least apparently paradoxical. It is in this paradox, however, that I see the character of our contemporary present best expressed, in terms of its strictly contingent dynamics of revulsion and of escalation.
On the other hand, the contemporary is extemporary in the relation of our present to its pasts and to its futures. Using Koselleck, this means thinking of the relation of the twenty-first century capitalist societies, cultures and forms of politics to their fictionally shared “spaces of experience” and “horizons of expectation” as structurally extemporaneous – out of time. Such historical specificity of our present can be best understood under the light of the phantasmagorical possibilities of change differently embodied and fostered by both the Artworld and the Web.
Finally and consequently, by qualifying our contemporaneity as extemporary I address the “generalized disavowal of politics” which appears as much among the characters as among the causes of the “disjunctive unity of present times” characterizing Osborne’s idea of the contemporary. To talk about politics today is to address the abstract dynamics structuring liberal democracy. This is the diktat imposed by the failure of the communist project, betrayed by the Russia of the soviets and definitely sanctioned with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In front of the lack of alternative horizons of political change, the idea of the extemporary contemporary becomes expression of the condition of the demos in the context of liberal democracy – in other words, of our contemporary condition.
The contemporary and the post-modern
Before proceeding with my analysis a concise outline of some of the reasons which fostered the passage from the idea of post-modernity to that of contemporaneity is needed. The gradual demise of the concept of post-modernity in favour of the idea of the contemporary has a fundamentally threefold character. First, the logic of the post grounding the concept of post-modernity projects an inherent linearity and contiguity to the succession of different historical times – a form of ill-concealed historicism. Such account does not give justice to the radically specific politics of time which characterize and qualify different spatial and temporal historical coordinates. Second, the idea of the post-modern is rhetorically constructed on the recognition of the end of grand-narratives while factually constituting itself just as another one: the meta-narrative of the cultural logic of late capitalism. Third, post-modernity – postmodernism more poignantly in this case – has been often and primarily conceived in terms of the rejection of the discrete formalism of Clement Greenberg’s elitarian modernism. The latter being just one – although epidemically successful – of the many isms of modernity.
The contemporary, differently, is not a periodizing concept merely tailored onto its relation to the times and spaces of modernity. The contemporary is not defined negatively, in opposition to the modern experience of the new. The contemporary builds upon the loss of historical futurity consequent to the subsumption of the temporality of the avant-garde by that of the modern. Although configuring a discrete form of historical self-consciousness from that embodied by the modern – one taking the traits of a shared condition – the contemporary acts supra modernity. It provides a fictional standpoint able to bring together – although only speculatively – the different times and spaces of the “multiple modernities” structuring the political economy of globalization. Such an univocal perspective being otherwise conceivable via the increasingly ungraspable laws of the transnational financial market only.
The contemporary dynamics of revulsion and escalation
What does it mean, then, to talk of an extemporary contemporary? How does extemporaneity fit into the globalized cultural and geo-political webs of the contemporary? Attributively, the extemporary complements the idea of the contemporary. This means arguing that the idea of the contemporary necessarily also embeds – as a trait – its very ethimological opposite. If the contemporary is a fiction, the extemporary outlines what this fiction is about. The fiction of the contemporary functions as a force of aggregation of the multi-layered individual and institutional “heterochronies” of life in the twenty-first century. “Heterochronies” dictated by different stages of technological, cultural, political and – most importantly – financial development of the different societies of the world beyond modernity. The co-presentness of today’s “heterochronies” is deciphered by the contemporary in terms of their unity in disjunction. Although this strategy is able to bypass an otherwise radically unsolvable relativism, this does not erase the empirical distances between the different (co-)presents of contemporary societies.
With the contemporary tickling at the pace of the financial market and of our clicks on the Internet, extemporaneity outlines the parallel actuality of the contemporary’s “plurality of temporally co-present ‘I’s”. Each of the contemporary “I”s exists external to the shrinking presents of the others. Their relation is extemporaneous, purely contingent. Contingency is what differentiates the concept of the extemporary from the rather nihilist and retrospectical one of anachronism. As glimpsed at before – behind and through the atrophying forces of the exchange-value – the contemporary extemporary manifests itself through conflicting fluxes of individual revulsion and of political escalation.
On the one side, the politically alienated subject of capitalism, deprived of both the possibility of imagining revolutions and of the experience of a perceivably shared social construction, turns inwards into himself. Revulsion is a sudden, internal, sense or feeling of unpleasantness. Terroristic attacks as much as the expression of one’s vote in the context of global populism seem to me different reactions to the same feeling or sense of contingent rejection. The proliferating recourse to referendums and the menace of anticipated general elections around the world being further examples. These are forms of re-action – not action. In this picture figure revolt-imprinted movements such as Occupy, just beside the British people voting for Brexit. On the other hand, processes of political escalation operate at all levels. They proliferate onto the lacks of defined targets of structural political and social development beside that of the capital. In a global perspective, this is clearly noticeable in the idiosyncrasies of contemporary international relations. Recent diplomatic clashes between USA and North Korea, UK and EU, Russia and USA, Turkey and NATO work well as examples.
The contemporary, the Artworld and the Web
To talk of fluxes of revulsion and escalation is of course to simplify the multifaceted legacies of the new world order that followed the end of the Cold War. Starting with the transition from Modern to Contemporary art institutions in the late forties, the development of a critical and art historical understanding of “the contemporary” has, in fact, its most recent historical counterpoints in two events: the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the inauguration of the World Wide Web two years later. These events produced a caesura in the history of artistic avant-gardes – and of the world. Globalization was entering its present radically borderless phase. Internationally, however, the political left had lost its bearings far before 1989. 1989 made geopolitically visible the historical passage from the modern time of Koselleck’s “horizons of expectations” to the present extemporaneous confusion of the fields of art, politics and society, variously embodied by the resurgence (and the instant-failures) of recent forms of pre-figurative dissent.  In fact, while maintaining the modern negation of exemplary pasts, the contemporary performs an annihilating identification of the present with all the world’s futures. It is a time extemporaneously reproducing itself independently from narratives rooted in the past and from ideals of progression bearing any kind of futurity.
The title of the 2015 Venice Biennale was not here recalled just by chance. In the arts, to the awareness of the years of institutional critique that – in Robert Smithson words – “there is no point in trying to transcend […] industry, commercialism and the bourgeoisie[…]” followed the nineties’ blooming of peripheral tactics of social engagement and the birth of cyber art activism. The biennial – the transnational melting pot of contemporary art and its markets – rapidly established as the prominent institutional frame of these new times and spaces of art. There are more than one hundred biennials all around the world. The title of the 56th Venice Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor, however, explicitly mirrors the contemporary tendency to identify our different co-presents with all their imaginable futures – without really pointing towards any of them. In this context, what contemporary art factually risks to become is the art of the next biennale. By the event’s opening, all the worlds futures had already happened. The forms of identity and the methodologies grounding international biennales seem in fact the right locus to display the future as a present past rather than projecting any futurity on the contemporary present.
This process is differently embodied by the illusion of political coordination and of social construction provided by the achronic archive of the Internet. The Internet is archival in nature because it configures a dispositive primarily aimed at sharing stored information. Internet is achronic because its web provides a kind of shared experience deeply indifferent to its own chronologies and to the possibility of being transfigured into something historically political. This is primarily because the subjects of the internet are always necessarily subjected to it. Boris Groys clearly points out that “[t]here’s no unmediated access to the media.” Contemporary subjectivity is, today, the very medium of the media. Only forms of subjectivity produced outside the spatio-temporal ubiquitous structures of the Web can, therefore, provide us with valuable tools for this mediation.
Our extemporary demos
We now get to the third and last trait defining the extemporary contemporary. Its relation to the “generalized disavowal of politics” defined by Osborne as the “disavowal of the futurity of the present by its very presentness”. The present of the contemporary, driven by “generations of technologies”, is ever shorter. The contemporary disavowal of politics is the primary outcome of the loss of the horizons of “communism” and of “revolution”. In lived politics, the principal epiphenomenon of these losses was the conception – in the nineties – of a “Third Way” able to suture the historical distances between left-wing and neoliberal ideals. The unavoidable crisis of this political experience is under our eyes.
On the one hand, this crisis is expressed by the alternation of formally identical political subjects justifying their very existence in the name of the people. The inconsistent social and political partitions so produced tell us something on the contemporary ‘disavowal of politics’: the extemporaneous nature of the individual and collective relations grounding such partitions. In other words, the people of liberal democracy compose an extremely fragmented demos, whose configurations are always extemporary not only because they respond to strictly contingent political skirmishes but also because of the lack of coagulating “orientations towards a [common] political practice”. On the other hand, the last decades witnessed an increasing passion for anti-systemic utopias of political change, grounded on the critique of contemporary forms of political representation – of the contemporary exercise of kratos. Exemplary here is the friction between constituent and constituted powers legitimating Antonio Negri’s pseudo-revolutionary idea of the multitude.
Nevertheless, the issue of the exercise of democratic kratos, of the definition of new forms of sovereignty, can be only addressed once the character of the contemporary demos is somehow identified. This is what makes our contemporary condition, really, the condition of a shared re-thinking of the ways of understanding and producing collective and political identity. The extemporaneity of the contemporary demos, therefore, cannot be deciphered through nationally and territorially-based forms of identification. The very idea that authentic democratic action still demands some kind of stratified pre-political homogeneity shall be strongly questioned itself. Rather, the configuration of the contemporary demos towards forms of common political practice should be explored under the prismatic perspective of its fragmented and contingent diversity. Against revulsion and escalation. Beyond discrete futural expectations.
There is a demos every time there is a culturally and politically self-reflexive community. With all its contradictions, the European Union is still the most ambitious of the democratic projects of this kind. Only if thought as an “us of others” can the contemporary demos affirm shared practices pointing to overcome its own extemporary condition. And take a step behind the future.
Agamben, Giorgio. HOMO SACER. Il potere sovrano e la vita nuda. Torino: Einaudi, 1995.
____. “What is the Contemporary?” . In What is an Apparatus? And Other Essays, 39–54. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009.
Alberro, Alexander and Sabeth Buchmann eds. Art after Conceptual Art. Cambridge: The MIT Press and Generali Foundation, 2006.
Alberro, Alexander and Blake Stimson, ed. Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1999.
____. Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2009.
Balibar, Étienne. Politics and the Other Scene. London: Verso, 2002.
____. We the People of Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.
Bishop, Claire. “Zones of indistinguishability: Collective actions group and participatory art.” e-flux journal, Issue 29, November, 2011, (accessed August 4, 2017).
____. Artificial Hells. London: Verso, 2013.
Boggs, Carl. “Marxism, prefigurative communism and the problem of workers’ control.” Radical America, Vol. 11, n. 6 (1977): 99–122.
Borriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Paris: Presses du Réel, 2002.
Buchloch, Benjamin. “Conceptual art 1962–69: From the aesthetics of administration to the critique of institutions.” October, 55 (1990): 105-143.
Cox, Jeoff and Jacob Lund. The Contemporary Condition: Introductory Thoughts on Contemporaneity and Contemporary Art. Berlin: Strenberg Press, 2016.
Flam, Jack, ed. Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Foster, Hal. “Contemporary Extracts.” e-flux journal, Issue 12, January, 2010, (accessed 1 August 2017).
Gillick, Liam. “Contemporary Art does not account for that which is taking place.” .” e-flux journal, Issue 21, December, 2010, (accessed August 14, 2017).
Groys, Boris. “Comrades of time.” e-flux journal, Issue 11, December, 2009, (accessed August 4, 2017).
____. “Introduction – global conceptualism revisited.” e-flux journal, Issue 29, November, 2011, (accessed 1 August 2017).
____. “On art activism.” e-flux journal, Issue 56, June, 2014, Accessed 1 August 2017.
____. “What is German Media Theory?” Radical Philosophy, 169 (2011): 7–9.
Guastamacchia, Nicola. “Keeping the Rock Rolling.” JAWS: Journal for Art Writing by Students. Volume 3 (2017 forthcoming).
Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. "The fight for “Real Democracy” at the heart of Occupy Wall Street.” Foreign Affairs, October 11, 2011, (accessed August 3, 2017).
Harootunian, Harry. “Remembering the Historical Present.” Critical Inquiry, 33 (2007): 471–494.
Hlavajova, Maria and Simon Sheikh, eds. Former West: Art and the Contemporary After 1989, Cambridge and Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2016.
Huyssen, Andreas. “Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia.” Public Culture, Volume 12, 1 (2000): 21–38.
Innerarity, Daniel. “Does Europe Need a Demos to Be Truly Democratic?” LSE ‘Europe in Question’ Discussion Paper Series, 77 (2014): 3.
Jameson, Fredric. A Singular Modernity. Essay on the Ontology of the Present. London: Verso, 2002.
Jauss, Christian.“Europa als politische Gemeinschaft.” In Europawissenschaft, edited by G. F. Schuppert, I. Pernice and U. Haltern, 489-539. Baden Baden: Nomos, 2005.
Koselleck, Reinhart. “Remarks on the Revolutionary Calendar and Neue Zeit.” In The Practice of Conceptual History, edited by Reinhart Koselleck and Todd Samuel Presner. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.
____. Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
Lübbe, Hermann. Zeit-Verhältnisse: Zur Kulturphilosophie des Fortschritts. Graz: Verlag Styria, 1983.
____. Im Zug der Zeit. Verkürzter Aufenthalt in der Gegenwart. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1993.
Matei Calinescu. Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1987.
Mayer, Richard. What Was Contemporary Art? Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2015.
McKee, Yates. “Occupy and the end of socially engaged art.” e-flux journal, 2016, issue 72, (accessed August 12, 2017).
Medina, Cuauhtémoc. “Contemp(t)orary: Eleven Theses.” e-flux journal, Issue 12, January, 2010, (accessed August 1, 2017).
Mouffe, Chantal. “The Populist Moment.” onpendemocracy.net, November 21, 2016, Accessed August 13, 2017).
Negri, Antonio and Max Henninger. “Art and culture in the age of empire and the time of the multitudes.” SubStance 112, Vol. 36, n. 1 (2007): 47–55.
O’Neill, Catherine. “Sovremennik.” In Encyclopedia of the Essay, edited by Tracy Chevalier. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.
Obrist, Hans Ulrich. “Manifestos for the Future.” e-flux journal, Issue 12, January, 2010, (accessed August 12, 2017).
Okwui, Enwezor. “The postcolonial constellation: Contemporary art in a state of permament transition.” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 34, n. 4 (2003): 57–82.
Osborne, Peter. “Aesthetic autonomy and the crisis of theory Greenberg, Adorno and the problem of postmodernism in the visual arts.” New Formations, Issue 9 (1989): 31–50.
____. The Politics of Time. London: Verso, 1995.
____. “Remember the future?.” The Socialist Register, Vol. 34 (1998): 190–204.
____. “Theorem 4: Autonomy – can it be true of art and politics at the same time?.” Open: Cahier on Art and the Public Domain, 23 (2012): 116–26.
____. “Disguised as a dog – cynical occupy?.” Radical Philosophy, 174 (2012): 15–21.
____. “Temporalization as transcendental aesthetics.” The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 23(2013):11–48.
____. Anywhere and not at all. London: Verso, 2013.
____. “The Postconceptual condition.” Radical Philosophy, 184 (2014): 19–27.
Pelbart, Peter. “What Is the Contemporary?.” Afterall, Issue 39, Summer, 2015, (accessed August 12, 2017).
Raunig, Gerald. Art and Revolution. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007.
Ricoeur Paul, History, Memory, Forgetting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Ranciére, Jacques. “The aesthetic revolution and its outcomes.” New Left Review, 14 (2002): 133–51.
____. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury, 2010.
Shavemaker, Margriet and Misha Rakier, eds. Right About Now: Art & Theory since 1990s. Amsterdam: Valliz, 2000.
Smith, Terry. “A Philosophy of Contemporary Art?: Some Comments on Osborne.” In Three Reflections on Contemporary Art History, edited by Nicholas Croggon and Helen Hughes, 75 – 88. Melbourne: Discipline and emaj, 2014.
Srnicek, Nick and Alex Williams. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work. London: Verso, 2015.
Stewart, Martin. “A new world art?.” Radical Philosophy, 122 (2003): 7–19.
____. “The absolute artwork meets the absolute commodity.” Radical Philosophy, 146 (2003): 15–25.
____. “Critique of relational aesthetics.” Third Text, Vol. 21, n. 4 (2007): 369–86.
Valéry, Paul. Regards sur le Monde Actuel et Autres Essais. Paris: Gallimard, 1996.
 “As a historical concept, Neue Zeit (new time) or Neuzeit (modern age) contains a contradiction. On the one hand, time is always new, insofar every present differentiates itself from every past and every future; it is unique and therefore new. […] On the other hand, ‘time’ indicates the same manner of repetition always embodied in the natural course of the heavenly bodies or in the rotation of the earth.” Reinhart Koselleck, “Remarks on the Revolutionary Calendar and Neue Zeit,” in The Practice of Conceptual History, ed. Reinhart Koselleck and Todd Samuel Presner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 148.
 Founded by Aleksandr Pushkin in 1836, Sovremennik was an influential liberal journal of the late eighteen century Russia. Pushkin died after the journal’s first year, participating to the publication of four issues only. Although Pushkin thought of the journal as a vehicle of both literary and political ideas under its second editor, Piotr Pletnev, Sovremennik was a striclty literary journal presenting writings and poems of increasing realism by authors such as Nikolai Gogol and Fedor Tiutchev. In 1847 Nikolai Nekrasov and Ivan Ivanovich Panaev became the editors of the journal. Under their direction Sovremennik became the most influencial liberal journal in Russia featuring prose by Fedor Dostoevskii, Aleksandr Herzen and critical writings by Vissarion Belinskii among the others. Increasingly politicized the Sovremennik was a constant target of the strict censorship committee of Tsar Nicholas I. With the ascension to the throne of the more moderate Alexander II in 1855 Sovremennik inaugurated its last phase, inspired by the radical socialist politics of the new editors Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Nikolai Dobroliubov. This made the break from the tsarist censorship i rather brief. In 1866, after the publication of Chernyshevskii’s revolutionary novel ‘What is to be done?’ Sovremennik was in fact definitively closed down. See Catherine O’Neill, “Sovremennik,” in Encyclopedia of the Essay, ed. Tracy Chevalier (London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997), 789 – 790.
 Only in the last twenty years “the contemporary” has moved away from the status of a mere chronological marker to become the historical and critical alternative to post-modernity (and post-modernism). The former status is emblematized by the strictly literal understanding of the term expressed by Matei Calinescu statement that the “Querelle des anciens et des modernes has been replaced by a Quarrel between the moderns and the contemporaries.” Matei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987), 92. For the emergence of “the contemporary” as a critical and not uniquely chronological concept see Peter Osborne, “Temporalization as transcendental aesthetics,” The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 23(2013):11–18, 48.
 Our contemporaneity is such (ours) to the extent we do not take it as an empirical concept. “There is no socially actual shared subject-position of or within our present from the standpoint of which its relational totality could be lived as a whole […].” Peter Osborne, Anywhere and not at all (London: Verso, 2013), 23.
 On the historical categories of the “space of experience” and of the “horizon of expectation” see Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).
 “The root idea of the contemporary as a living, existing, or occurring together ‘in’ time, then, requires further specification as a differential historical temporality of the present: a coming together of different but equally ‘present’ times, a temporal unity in disjunction, or a disjunctive unity of present times.” Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 22.
 “ ‘Modernity’ and ‘postmodernity’, ‘modernism’, ‘postmodernism’ and ‘avant-garde’ are categories of historical consciousness which are constructed at the level of the apprehension of history as a whole. […] As such, each involves a distinct form of historical temporalization – a distinctive way of temporalizing ‘history’ […]. Associated with such temporalizations are […] particular orientations towards practice, particular politics of time.” Peter Osborne, The Politics of Time (London: Verso, 1995), IX.
 Ibid., IX.
“This is the problem of the relationship between two quite distinct, if none the less interconnected conceptions of modernism: a stylistic, formalistic, or what might be called an 'art-historical' conception of modernism, derived in the most part, within the visual arts, from the work of Clement Greenberg; and a far wider (socio-cultural) and deeper (aesthetico-philosophical) conception of modernism, such as is to be found, for example, in the work of the Frankfurt school and other theorists from within the German tradition. It is, I shall argue, in the constant and systematic privileging of the first of these two conceptions over the second in the attempt to theorize a concept of postmodernism for the visual arts that much of both the mystery and the intractability of the problem of postmodernism.” Peter Osborne, “Aesthetic autonomy and the crisis of theory Greenberg, Adorno and the problem of postmodernism in the visual arts,” New Formations, Issue 9, Winter (1989): 46.
 “In short, historically construed, contemporaneity is the temporality of globalization: a new kind of totalizing but immanently fractured constellation of temporal relations. This new historical temporality interacts with the temporality of modernity – the differential temporality of the new – in fiendishly complicated ways. There is no replacement of the one with the other, no replacement of the logic of the modern by the contemporary – that is the mistake of the kind of stagist, historicist periodization we find in mainstream history and art history alike.” See Peter Osborne, “The Postconceptual condition,” Radical Philosophy, 184 (2014): 24.
 In the process of “historical subsumption of the temporality of the avant-garde by the temporality of the modern: the modern stands to the avant-garde as the negation of its politics by the repetition of the new –‘the new as the ever–same’ ”; while in “the historical subsumption of the temporality of the modern by ‘the contemporary’, the contemporary stands to the modern as the negation of the dialectical logic – and hence specifically developmentalist futurity – of the new by a spatially determined, but imaginary co-presencing.” Peter Osborne, “Temporalization as transcendental aesthetics,” 28.
 Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 25.
 In fact, “What is called ‘globalization’ is primarily the effect of the relative global deregulation of capital markets, or, more specifically, the relative denationalization of the regulation of markets in finance capital […], after the passing of historical communism.” Globalization determines a rupture in the “spatio-temporal matrix of possible experience”, of which the historical–temporal form of contemporaneity is the primary outcome. Peter Osborne, “The Postconceptual condition,” 23.
 Osborne describes the contemporary as “empirically problematic”. The contemporary “projects a non-existent unity onto the disjunctive relations between coeval times.” This is what makes all the constructions of the contemporary necessarily fictional, “in the sense of fiction as a narrative mode”. Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 23.
 Ibid., 24.
 The idea of the contemporary is inherently utopian. In Osborne’s words, “it functions as if the speculative horizon of the unity of human history had been reached” and posits the infinite task of actual, lived, contemporaneity. The idea of the contemporary acquires the status of “a condition of historical intelligibility of social experience”. This is what makes the contemporary also geopolitically problematic. See Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 22–26.
 Different from the subject of modernity, which is characterized by a collective unity, the subject of the contemporary has a fragmented, distributive unity. See Paul Ricoeur, History, Memory, Forgetting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 305; and, Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 25.
 “Lübbe’s argument about the shrinking extension of the present signals a great paradox: The more the present of advanced consumer capitalism prevails over past and future, sucking both into an expanding synchronous space, the weaker is its grip on itself, the less stability or identity it provides for contemporary subjects.” writes Andrea Huyssen in “Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia,” Public Culture, Volume 12, 1 (2000): 21–38. See also, Hermann Lübbe, Im Zug der Zeit. Verkürzter Aufenthalt in der Gegenwart (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1993); and Hermann Lübbe, Zeit-Verhältnisse: Zur Kulturphilosophie des Fortschritts (Graz: Verlag Styria, 1983).
 Political alienation is the outcome of the “generalized disavowal of politics”, defined by Osborne as the “disavowal of the futurity of the present by its very presentness”. Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 23 and 209. This is the consequence of the negation of the specific futurity of (modern) temporality by the specificities of (contemporary) spatiality. A negation implied by the loss of the horizons of ‘communism’ and ‘revolution’ after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
 “Twenty-seven years ago on this very day, a rather different vision of the new world order was projected with the end of the Cold War […]. Then, the world’s uneven division into the ‘first’, ‘second’, and ‘third’ was said to be recomposed around an imaginary of another – singular, common – world.” See Maria Hlavajova, “Preface in the Place of a Postscript,” in Former West: Art and the Contemporary After 1989, ed. Maria Hlavajova and Simon Sheikh (Cambridge and Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2016), 15–16.
 The transition from modern to contemporary art institutions immediately revealed to be quite a contradictory phenomenon, founded on the erroneous idea that the (art) historical “formering” of modern art was primarily a matter of nomenclatures. Emblematic was the case of the (former) Boston Museum of Modern Art in the U.S. “On February 17, 1948, the Institute of Modern Art, formerly known as the Boston Museum of Modern Art, announced that it was once again – and for the last time – changing its name. In a public statement released that day, the institute declared that modern art had become ‘a cult of bewilderment’ that ‘rested on the hazardous foundations of obscurity and negation, and utilized a private, often secret, language which required the aid of an interpreter’.” See Richard Mayer, What Was Contemporary Art? (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2015), 191.
 A phase characterized by a spatial coding which emphasizes national and regional cultural-political territorial forms while actually destroying the economic structures on which such forms were founded and developed. See Peter Osborne, “Temporalization as transcendental aesthetics,” 35.
 In 1977 Carl Boggs was already writing that “In the end, structural reformism and Leninism appear[ed] as two diametrically opposed strategies that lead to twin versions of state bureaucratic capitalism.” Carl Boggs, “Marxism, prefigurative communism and the problem of workers’ control,” Radical America, Vol. 11, n. 6 (1977): 99–122.
 Jacques Rancière’s concept of the politics of aesthetics is one of the critical and philosophical deciphering (and expressions) of such confusion of the fields of art and politics. See Jacques Ranciére, “The aesthetic revolution and its outcomes,” New Left Review, 14 (2002): 133–51. Not differently from the Situationist International in the sixties, recent forms of art activism present a problematic relation between their artistic and political characters. The idealization of art as political activism reached its peak of enthusiasm (and confusion) on the occasion of the 2011 occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York. See McKee, Yates, “Occupy and the end of socially engaged art,” e-flux journal, 2016, issue 72, (accessed 1 August 2017).
 Different theoretical frames for such tactics were soon provided by critics such as Nicolas Borriaud and Claire Bishop, who understand them as forms of “relational aesthetic”s and as expressions of a supposed “social turn” respectively. Nicolas Borriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Paris: Presses du Réel, 2002); and Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells (London: Verso, 2013). For Robert Smithson’s quote see Jack Flam, ed., Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 312.
 “For Koselleck, who designated the distinctively modern in terms of historical time, “experience is present past, whose events have been incorporated and can be remembered.” Similarly, expectation also occurs in the today and signals the “future made present”.” See Harry Harootunian, “Remembering the Historical Present,” Critical Inquiry, 33 (2007): 471–494. See also Reinhart Koselleck, Future Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, 255–276.
 “[…] cyberspace alone is not the appropriate model to imagine the global future—its notion of memory is misleading, a false promise. Lived memory is active, alive, embodied in the social—that is, in individuals, families, groups, nations, and regions. These are the memories needed to construct differential local futures in a global world. There is no doubt that in the long run all such memories will be shaped to a significant degree by the new digital technologies and their effects, but they will not be reducible to them.” See Huyssen, “Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia,” 38.
 Boris Groys, “What is German Media Theory?,” Radical Philosophy, 169 (2011): 9.
 Ibid., 7–9.
 Osborne, Anywhere and not at all, 23.
 Ibid., 24.
 Ibid., 208–209.
 In 1931 Paul Valery was already writing that “The very notions we employ in thinking and talking of political matters have gradually become deceptive and inconvenient. The word ‘people,’ for instance, had an exact meaning when it was possible to gather all the citizens of a town together, round a hillock in a public square. But the increase in numbers, the transition from the order of thousands to millions, has made the word ‘people’ a monstrous term whose sense depends on the sentence into which it enters.” Paul Valéry, Regards sur le Monde Actuel et Autres Essais (Paris: Gallimard, 1996 ), 15–16.
 Osborne, The Politics of Time, IX. See note 6.
 See, for example, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, "The fight for “Real Democracy” at the heart of Occupy Wall Street,” Foreign Affairs, October 11, 2011, (accessed August 2017).
 “This contraposition between homogeneous national spaces that are bursting with solidarity and heterogeneous transnational spaces that are incapable of solidarity does not correspond to the reality of the nation states, either from the point of view of their historical construction or their current expression of solidarity. The states did not arise from societies in which there was already unity, nor have they produced it pacifically.” See Daniel Innerarity, “Does Europe Need a Demos to Be Truly Democratic?,” LSE ‘Europe in Question’ Discussion Paper Series, 77 (2014): 3.
 “There is a demos where there is a reflexive community and where there are no assumptions of cultural, linguistic, or historic homogeneity. That which is common refers more to the procedures that secure and institutionalize that reflection than to pre-political assumptions.” Ibid., 26.
Ibid., 25. See also, Christian Jauss,“Europa als politische Gemeinschaft,” in Europawissenschaft, ed. G. F. Schuppert, I. Pernice and U. Haltern (Baden Baden: Nomos, 2005), 489-539.