Burlington Contemporary Questionnaire
To launch a discussion about what a new publication on contemporary art might offer, Burlington Contemporary sent out a questionnaire to writers, artists and thinkers. It asked what the word ‘contemporary’ meant to them, and what a new journal might offer. A selection of the responses illustrate this article.
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In art, what is contemporary?
Art that is being made now, which is not to say that art made earlier cannot have contemporary relevance, far from it’. Achim Borchardt-Hume, Head of Exhibitions, Tate
‘A true Toltec, right here right now. Every human is a born creator whose life is their work of art'. Bonnie Camplin, artist
‘. . . if it is art, it is a living artist. The conundrum results when the person is dead, but their work is still of our time. . . The best way to deal with this, of course, is to avoid using such descriptors all together’. Julia Peyton-Jones, Former Director, Serpentine Galleries
‘That which reflects diversity’. Chila Kumari Burman, artist
Why read or write about it?
‘To make critically supported value judgements as to artistic merit, within the ever-increasing over-production of contemporary art’. Merlin James, artist
'Paradoxically, many viewers of contemporary art find that the art of their times is that which speaks to them the least. Art writing and exhibition-making therefore have a crucial editorial role in breaking down barriers. (Currently, they seem more often to erect them.)' Celia White, Researcher, Tate
‘To be truly honest with one's self as a historian or critic, to understand that history is an affective discipline governed as much by fantasy as by fact. To revel in the contemporary is to enjoy the immediacy of our critical and emotional capacities as they intersect in "real" time’. William J. Simmons, University of Southern California
What should a new contemporary art journal cover that is not already covered by others?
'Class, power, exclusion'. Linsey Young, Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate
‘If it you want to do something different that stands out there has to be some blood on the floor . You need to commission writing from people who live to look AND there has to be strong Editorial direction’. Dexter Dalwood, Artist
‘The scope of frameworks in which art can now be located – digital, commercial, ephemeral’. Lucy Kumara Moore, Claire de Rouen Books
‘Explore territory beyond prevailing trends; create conversations between art of the past and now; privilege the artist’s voice’. Susan May, Global Artistic Director, White Cube
‘It should see clearly that the art world is a bubble and to pierce the bubble it should seek to link recent + contemporary output into broader cultural spheres. . . A new journal can add flesh to the bones of the contemporary art body’. Charles Asprey, publisher
‘Potholes, cigarette burns, cracks in plaster, gaps in knowledge, stains on carpets and other unsightly blemishes on various surfaces – in fact anything that is left over after all the other journals have been used up’. John Smith, artist and film-maker