Nicolas Bourriaud on 'Heterochronia'



About Heterochronia

Hetero – different or other, chronos – time. Within the framework of Altermodern, it describes artists’ work which cannot be easily anchored to a specific time; which asks us to question what is contemporary. Without nostalgia, artists trace lines and connections through time as well as space. It is not the modernist idea of time advancing in a linear fashion, nor the postmodern time advancing in loops, but a chaining or clustering together of signs from contemporary and historical periods which allows an exploration of what is now. ‘It is significant that a number of today’s artists operate in a space-time characterised by this “delay”, playing with the anachronistic, with multi-temporality or time-lag. We could say that the ageless drawings of Charles Avery, the paintings of Spartacus Chetwynd or Shezad Dawood, the iconographic materials of Olivia Plender, Peter Coffin, Matthew Darbyshire and Ruth Ewan, or Tacita Dean’s and Joachim Koester’s references to the origins of the cinema – like those of Navin Rawanchaikul to Bollywood posters – all deal in the aesthetics of heterochrony: their work displays none of the obvious signs of contemporaneity, save perhaps in the process of their constitution, in the assembling of their parts into meaningful networks. Here what is “contemporary” is the structure of the work, its method of composition: the very fact that it brings together heterochronic elements – delay (analogous to “pre-recorded”) coexists with the immediate (or “live”) and with the anticipated, just as documentary coexists with fiction, not according to a principle of accumulation (postmodern baroquism), but with the aim of revealing our present, in which temporalities and levels of reality are intertwined.’ Nicolas Bourriaud, Altermodern: Tate Triennial, Tate Publishing, 2009 (p21).