Kristian Handberg: Multiple Modernities
Multiple Modernities: World Images and Dreamworlds in Art and Culture, 1946-1972
The aim of the project is to pursue an art historical new-reading of the cultural epoch following the demarcation line marked by end of WW2. The art historical consensus has tended to highlight the avant-gardes of the prewar era. These were, however, taking place in a different context of empires, monarchies, and social orders radically changed by the war. In a political, social, geographical and cultural way the world must be seen as more consequently modernized after 1945 – and in much closer contact with today. Thus, the arts of the era will be analyzed as different expressions of a fundamentally modernized world, as vision as well as condition, through the perspectives of the new horizons of the era:
The global horizon: The era is characterized by new global political and cultural orientation through rapid de-colonialization, the world-spanning Cold War and aesthetic interpretations of modern life on a global scale.
The cosmic horizon: Parallel to the threat of atomic annihilation and the memory of recent atrocities, the era is characterized by the heady new perspectives of space exploration, scientific discoveries and new technology. Inspired by this theme, the timespan of the project is defined by images from above: From the first photo taken from the outer atmosphere by a V2 rocket in 1946 to the iconic Blue Marble photo taken from Apollo 17 in 1972.
The horizon of a new society: From the rulers of the super powers to grassroots movements the period was characterized by visions for a new society and radical experiments in cultural forms and ways of life, from new-built suburbia to hippie communes.
The project will explore how this is expressed in the arts, from statements like ”When man comes to the moon, he will hardly be painting easel pictures” (Lucio Fontana) to the Soviet Union showing paintings by cosmonauts at the Venice Biennale. Together with the primary research on the arts and culture of the postwar era the project will respond to being part of a general reexamination and historicization of the postwar era in particular and 20th century modernity in general, currently happening through exhibitions, books and research activities concerning “global modernism(s)” and “multiple modernities”.
Kristian Handberg is a postdoctoral researcher with the project “Multiple Modernities: World Images and Dreamworlds in arts and culture, 1946-1972” at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2015-2018). He received his PhD from the University of Copenhagen in 2014 with the project “There’s no time like the past: Retro between memory and materiality in contemporary culture”, an analysis of retro culture as cultural memory of 20th century culture. Handberg holds an MA from Aarhus University, and he was a visiting scholar at McGill University, Montreal, Canada 2012. He is a deputy member of COST, Action 1231, “In Search of Transcultural Memory in Europe”. His research interests include: modernism and postwar arts and culture, cultural memory, material culture and thing theory, revival and retro culture. He works as a writer, curator, art critic, and editor.