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Contemporary Art, the Modern and Historicity

By Prof C. J. W.-L. Wee (Singapore)

What is the place of contemporary art forms from the 1980s within the present global dispensation? The cultural critic, Fredric Jameson, has commented that the 1980s “seem to mark the end of the modern in all kinds of ways, from communications technologies and industry all the way to forms of art”.

Do all forms of contemporary art inevitably embody this “end of temporality” that, Jameson argues, is endemic to a general condition of postmodernity? This presentation will suggest that the contemporary of contemporary art in our region is less a period style, and more differing artistic responses in various (though linked) contexts of desired economic growth to the end of temporality as a situation.

Examined through the theatre practices of acclaimed theatre-makers, Singapore’s Kuo Pao Kun (1939 - 2002) and Malaysia’s Krishen Jit (1939 - 2005), and concludes with consideration of the intercultural theatre of Ong Keng Sen (b.1964).