Altermodern is a term coined by curator Nicolas Bourriaud in 2009, to describe art made as a reaction against standardisation and commercialism, in the context of globalisation

Mike Nelson, ‘The Coral Reef’ 2000
Mike Nelson
The Coral Reef 2000
© Mike Nelson, courtesy Matt’s Gallery, London
Bob and Roberta Smith, ‘Make Art Not War’ 1997
Bob and Roberta Smith
Make Art Not War 1997
© Bob and Roberta Smith
Gustav Metzger, ‘Liquid Crystal Environment’ 1965, remade 2005
Gustav Metzger
Liquid Crystal Environment 1965, remade 2005
© Gustav Metzger

The term was coined by Nicolas Bourriaud on on the occasion of the Tate Triennial in 2009.

Altermodern is against cultural standardisation and massification, but also opposed to nationalisms and cultural relativism. Altermodern artists position themselves within the world’s cultural gaps. Cultural translation, mental nomadism and format crossing are the main principles of altermodern art.

Viewing time as a multiplicity rather than as a linear progress, the altermodern artist navigates history as well as all the planetary time zones producing links between signs faraway from each other. Altermodern is ‘docufictional’ in that it explores the past and the present to create original paths where boundaries between fiction and documentary are blurred.

Formally speaking, it favours processes and dynamic forms to one-dimensional single objects and trajectories to static masses.

See also

Altermodern explained: manifesto

Altermodern exhibition at Tate Britain 3 February – 26 April 2009 manifesto

TateShots: Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009

Soweto Kinch takes on Tate Britain


Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009 - Curator's Talk

Lizzie Carey-Thomas, Curator of Contemporary British art at Tate Britain, discusses the myriad of interconnecting themes manifest in Altermodern: Tate ...