Umetnost na kraju veka

Serbian (Latin)
Serbian (Cyrillic)

Project Rastko


Sreten Ugricic

Branko Paviζ, Teme za velike gradove / Themes for Big Cities I, 1994.

I intend to point to a specific feature of the current state of affairs in art: to a certain equivalence among various categories of art, the past and postmodernism. This three-equivalent reciprocity I would define as "constellation". The following discourse will show that the relationship of postmodernist art and the art of the past is incomparably more direct than the relationship described by Fredric Jameson who insists – we may say today, in a classical way – on the procedures like citation and pastiche.

The fundamental difference to be discussed here is the difference between the art of history and the art of the past. Therefore, I do not call upon the usual difference between the pair of categories: the history of art – the past of art, but on the difference between the complementary pair of the art of history and the art of the past. As the history of art is a corresponding representative of the art of history, so is the past of art the corresponding representative of the art of the past. As the means and measure of distinction I plan to use first the indication of a general difference between the history and the past, and then, in the second part of this paper, the indication of the specific difference between the history of art and the past of art.

For the beginning, I will assume that we all know what history is, so that we could arrive at the point which – supposedly – is not known to us, i.e. the answer to what the past really is, the past in relation to art. In the third part of the essay, at the end of the text, the answer to each of the questions posed will read: the past of art is Postmodernist art. But, we still have to come to that.

Part One: Beyond the History of Art

1. One can distinguish and define two general, paradigmatic types of art in relation to history: the art of history and the art of the past. The art of history is the art which does not transcend history and is characteristic of creative work within history – of those works which originate from history and therefore contribute to it in the end.

On the other hand, the art of the past is the art which surpasses history and is characteristic of the creative works outside history – the works which originate before, after and beyond history, and which as such have their final issue within themselves and not without.

The relationship in question is the relation of subordination. In the first case, art is subordinated to history which uses it for its own needs and because of its own needs. In the other case, history is subordinated to art which uses the given history for its own needs and because of its own needs. On axiological level, the identified subordination is established between teleological and esthetic values: simply, in the art of history the beautiful "serves" the meaning, while in the art of the past it is quite the opposite – the meaning if subordinated to the beautiful. The art of history is the art of facts and the meaning whose implications never surpass the general meaning of history. The art of the past is the art of artefacts and beauty whose implications greatly surpass history. If we intimately accept how ugly history is, it becomes obvious that it is so difficult to surpass it esthetically.

A work of art of history indicates something that belongs to history (not in the sense of finality, but in the sense of historicity, i.e. historically defined) – it indicates the generally accepted historical interest beyond which there exists nothing for history itself, not even that work. It is something that can exist even without the immanent esthetic dimension, because the work is not commanded by art, but by history. Contrary to that, a work art of the past indicates something else – it indicates what cannot authentically exist beyond the work itself and its immanent esthetic dimension. There is nothing like that in history, it is possible only in the past, because it is not commanded by history nor subordinated to it, but commanded by art and subordinated to art only. History connects events, individuals and works in an ideological way – by the means of an assumed telos, while the past does the same directly – through time.

2. The art of the past embodies that which is disinterested (Kant) because it has neither cause nor end outside itself – that is, an esthetic value, because that value is autonomous and autoreferrential in relation to the heteronomy of history unscrupulously annulling all values which are not historical. By value, I mean here the specific sense, different from the generally accepted meaning of history, and separate from it, as if singled out against a background, by its autonomy and autoreference. Such a definition of the art of the past enables its works to originate both in the time which is not called "past", but "present". A sufficient condition for contemporary art to become an equal element of the whole art of the past is its autonomous axiological status versus any history. Some of the contemporary works fulfill this requirement, some do not. By fulfilling the requirement contemporary works automatically turn from "present" into "past", just like many works of the past have by the same principle legitimately entered our present.

The axiological equivalence of the art of the past and the art of our present justifies the seeming paradox of the described esthetic situation. Aware of that, the art of our, postmodernist age, legitimately appears as the current art of the past. The specific feature of this artistic procedure lies in the diverse ways of the creative appropriation of the existing works which have, by their esthetic and artistic qualities, acquired an immunity to the fatal influence of history. By this procedure of specifically artistic transfer, there is a further development – as much as possible or as much as the artist feels necessary – of those aspects which have mostly contributed to the epochal distancing of the already existing artistic works from history.

The art of the past, understood as the current artistic practice, is able to use those elements which have proven valuable in history, for its own "esthetic surplus" of meaning, which surpasses its origins previously commanded by history. Having once surpassed history, such works leave history but remain in the past, together and on equal terms with all other works of the past, before, after or during history.

3. One can already surmise that the past – contrary to history as a category of tendentiousness and discrimination – is a category of ontological and axiological tolerance. The art of history turns facts exclusively into historical values, while the art of the past turns artefacts as values into historically neutral facts of the past. There, in the past, values are taken as relevant facts in themselves. Within their polysemantic and multilayered esthetic trans-scription and trans-formation, the historical is substituted with the past.

How can a work be present in the past, or the present essentially equivalent to its past, and not be present in history? Because the nature of its presence is a-historical. The work exists in time and beyond history, although this seems impossible at the first glance. However, at second glance, we will all agree that it is much easier to survive in the past than in history. This is particularly true of those qualities which are not historical, and which history either appropriates with no justification, or mercilessly destroys when appropriation is not possible.

The works of art are the best representatives of the past understood in this way, as an axiological and a-historical category at the same time, because, even when they are allotted to history, they transcend it and never totally succumb to its changes and hierarchies. Artistic values – if they are really values and not some kind of simulation – reflect their status regardless of revolutions or evolutions of evaluation scales There is something in the works of art which can neither be used not misused by any of the declared historical telos. They exist in a certain sacred mutuality – on equal terms, one beside another, regardless of the epoch, class, culture, social order, religion or custom of their origin. And thus, works of art can, from the moment they are created, "enter" a certain history, but need not, they can "stay" in history, just as they can "drop out" of it , or "soar" over it – depending on the given history and its interests, and has nothing to do with art itself. However, once they are created, works of art cannot disappear from the past, because there, in time, they stay forever, together with all other human values, together with everything else human.

History is obviously an inhuman (judging by its terrifying consequences), antihuman instance (although it endeavours to show itself in a completely opposite light), while past is a human instance par excellence. But, more about this (that there is nothing human outside the past) in the third part of this essay.

Part Two: Postmodernist Art as the Art of the Past

1. The art of the past differs from the art of history in a more direct and far-reaching way when exemplified against the difference between the traditional history of art and the understanding of the past of the art as offered here.

Observed from that perspective, my initial judgment (in trying to make an exact definition of the art of the past) lies in the domain of the scholarly discipline of the history of art, but directly challenges the discipline by its contents. That judgment, so dangerous for the history of art, runs as follows: up to now – in other words, until the phenomenon of postmodernist art – the history of art has not encountered or recognized the situation in which there are no more differences, relations or divisions between, on the one hand, the current happenings in art and the legitimately preceding ones, on the other. Now, with the ascent of postmodernist art things are just like that: all esthetics are simultaneously legitimate. Observed from the perspective of the current practice (the already indicated direct transfer between the contemporary and the existing works of art), and from the perspective of the theoretically cognizant reception of the practice: all of the distinctive connections, projections, irreducible elements, aspects, analogies, definitions, regulations, etc. have been canceled, and the right to choose whichever artistic poetics known to history (or unknown, if possible at all) has been established. Everything is simultaneous. Vatimo, in "The End of Modernism" quotes a part of Nietsche's letter to Burckhart: "All the names of history are within me" – by which statement the last European sage effectively implies the specific feature of postmodernist art we are discussing here (in Nietsche's case, insanity has the significance of a posthistorical gesture, a heroic deed by which man, stronger than history, an individual "extra-order-ly", definitely breaks free from it).

2. In the history of art, as in any other history (as the historical narrative model has been conceived, from St. Augustine to Fukuyama, including all "left" and "right" variants) the effect of a chosen telos has uniformly arranged the order of events (in this case: the works of art) in a seemingly legitimate meaningful progression of a recognizable genealogically projected structure. The significance of the movement from archeo to telos in an established historical progression is gradually realized through a logical change of the phases of the process, where the works themselves are only the documents of separate stages. Therefore, the historical telos is the criterion of triple distinction: of the already happened, of the currently happening and of what is yet to happen. Completed in such a way – under the domination of the fundamental enlightening ideas of progress and the new as the highest value – the inherent image of the traditional formal-linguistic "Darwinism", the history of art has denied itself by perishing in the vacuum of the self-contradictory issue. This progressive order of styles, forms, of always new yet unexplored possibilities of expression, has relatively quickly got stuck in the blind alley of utterly consistent and simultaneously absurd results: music without tones, literature without words and meaning, ballet without movement, theatre without drama or acting, film without editing or action, architecture without houses, streets or squares, and, of course, painting without anything visual in it... And thus the final point of the historical hypothesis has been reached – it is obvious in all arts and has been identified as a paradoxical symptom of the peak of modernism, and, at the same time, it is the diagnosis of its imminent end as an epoch.

The very end of modernity, the epochal awareness of such a state of affairs, transforms an ante-postmodernist world of art into another – into the world of postmodernist art. The internal instability of extreme modernity has legitimately turned by itself, like a used glove, into something that is not immanently unstable – and this Other means that the very essence of the order has mutated. Genealogical-projective organization of the history of art could no longer stay as it was, and therefore has out of itself turned into something that is not organized – into an "absent" structure of a different, non-fatal type. To designate this non-organisational quality I propose the word "constellation". Literally: a flock of stars, figuratively: chance, coincidence. As history is the organization of inevitable logical connections of all events, coincidence represents an absence of these imperative connections, an absence of the predestined conditioning by the structure itself. Apart from that, etymology points to a worthy metaphor – not yet completely spent, at least in my opinion – about the works of art as stars, astral bodies, and their possible influence on human destiny (and this will be discussed later). For the present time, I would like to represent as adequately as possible the general difference between the consternation of history and the constellation of postmodernist art.

3. Before postmodernist art, one form of art inevitably effaced the one preceding it, in order to vanish itself as a historical relict under the surge of another arriving form, structurally akin, but stronger and more destructive (and each forthcoming form was more powerful and more destructive because, according to the rules of the serials, it was closer to the end point and the peak of history). After the modernist period, that it, with the beginning of the postmodernist era, there exists no more this progressive poetic competition. Instead of that, instead of the authoritarian regime of the straight-line order directed toward only one historical target, an ahistoric context is established – the context of horizontal constellation of all possible artistic forms (which no longer act diachronically, but synchronically).

We could illustrate this as follows: if the history of art was until the end of the modernist period adequately exemplified by gastronomy (the science of particular "devouring"), then the constellation of postmodernist art is adequately illustrated by astronomy (the science of the particular "distribution of stars").

If modernist art was a concept (idea, project), postmodernist art is a context (constellation, even distribution). If modernist art was the time of Spirit (as radically propounded by Hegel), postmodernist art is the spirit of Time. If modernist art was believing, or disbelieving in an existing God (teism or atheism of the given narrative structure), then postmodernist art is believing or disbelieving in a nonexistent God. If modernist art was the esthetic poverty of the Certain and the Same (always new, but never anything else but new), then postmodernist art is the esthetic affluence of the Uncertain and the Diverse.

4. I conceive for a moment the image of a spider in its transparent web and wonder, but not just rhetorically, how has postmodernist art succeeded in interweaving – like a spider out of its own self, that is, out of our present – the whole history of art, redefining its borderlines by making them irrelevant? Multipoetic coexistence and tolerance, the current peculiarity of the artistic scene (compare with, let us say, Dilthey's term Wirkungszusammenhange: an equal interrelationship of a multitude of different elements), has revealed by its immanent polyvalent network of contextuality, spontaneously but protecting itself by understandable skepticism – under calculated, projected masks and fireworks of history – the pure, natural, un-historic state of art. This is the state in which everything persists simultaneously and equally, with no selection or discrimination of any kind of a given exterior telos.

If I borrow grammar terminology, I could say that postmodernist art is a poetic pluralia tantum – one as many (like, for example, scissors), a reciprocal relationship, a constellation of artistic forms gathered together in time (artefacts and arte-effects). Pluralia tantum, therefore, which has unmasked the poetic singularia tantum of one-dimensional, unilateral history of art by disclosing – nothing else, but – the past of art. Because the past is just that, pluralia tantum, the unity of a multitude of events (facts and effects of those facts) connected directly in time.

Branko Paviζ, Teme za velike gradove / Themes for Big Cities II, 1994.

5. Postmodernist art and past share the same ahistoric nature. Both exist only in the condition of time (outside the historical sphere of interest), therefore, de facto unconditionally and disinterestedly. This justifies the established equivalence between postmodernist art and past, since past is postmodernist and vice versa. The analogy which supports such a diagnosis I find in the ante-postmodernist era as well: similar to the former profound equivalence between modernist art and history (Habermas), I see now the same relationship transposed between the postmodernist quality of the past and the past of postmodernism. In postmodernist art, the ahistoric present of the past (former artistic forms) has recognized itself in the past of the ahistoric present (the contemporary artistic forms) and vice versa.

All one-dimensional historic visions, semantics and syntax of former arts have been deconstructed – history has been disarmed (Sloterdijk) and ideologically neutralized. Behind the vision distorted by concept, which forcefully makes uniform everything that might "disobediently" stick out of the framework of the given order, there appears the undistorted, everlasting (always identical to itself) face of the past of the art. The postmodernity of the present (not under the orders of telos) has thus found itself in the postmodernity of the past (also not commanded by telos). The vast context of the past of art has automatically and authentically been blended with the current context equally represented by all of the imaginable forms of art, active in the time we are living. To repeat: everything is simultaneous. As soon as the present of art has discovered its own identity in the past, instead of history, the very past of art has become the undoubtedly only possible present, thus broadening itself, both in theory and practice, to its absolute limits – to the moment in time when we are talking about it.

This rounds up the discussion of the initial evaluation, because a sufficient number of conditions have converged to make the conclusion that – since there is no more any difference or any kind of relevant relationship between the current and the past, the traditional concept of any history of art becomes obsolete.

Before the very eyes of the tired historian, the museum, illuminated by the aura of the works of art, has turned into a planetarium.

6. However, this past – to avoid possible misconceptions – does not in any way mean the death of art, but on the contrary, the only conceivable living state, as a precise expression and esthetic correlative of the authentic postmodernist experience. This experience is distinguished by the cognizance that what really matters (the only thing which does not lead to a disastrous civilizational defeat as a consequence of the self-contradictions of modernist art) is the existential reserve within the polarity between an instinctive urge for some (any) sense and the equally powerful, self-conscious urge never to satisfy the first urge. The cultural and overall civilizational identity of man in the last two decades of the twentieth century (as represented by the art of the same period) is preserved within this simple but burdensome polarity.

The existential weight of the described irresolution is apparent in the well-balanced equilibrium between the strong, indestructible spiritual need for history, that is, an all-encompassing sense, on the one hand, and the equally strong desire to persevere in one's distrust (Liotard) of history, on the other. We cannot totally succumb to either instinct or self-consciousness, because in both cases we would be lost. One has to stay in between, now and for ever. And it is the very past, which, as we have seen, can no longer be distinguished from the present, is the eternal instance, unrecoverable in its endurance. One could also say that it is a particular balance of fear, 'fleeing' the global socio-political sphere to enter the private, personal, individual identity of each of us – of the artist who represents in an intensive and crystalline way the fundamental truth of the time he lives in.

7. The dilemma is contained in the basic logical axiom of the human mind: A or not-A. Postmodernist art does not propose either A or not-A, but a perseverance on the "or", the unavoidable existential disjunction, the continuous postponement of decision, determination (Derrida), and. although paradoxical at first sight, for that very human mind. Therefore, apparently against mind, but already at second sight, on behalf of the mind (if we want to stop it from mutating into the malignant, inhuman).

Fortunately, it is from this very state of intimate division that immanent differences – stemming from the experience of paradoxically beneficial and redeemable postmodernist identity which is not definitive but perseveres in indefiniteness – radiate the unbinding and reliable energy of the culture of the very end of the century (and already the second millennium since Christ). This energy does not steer into any direction, does not lead, but equilibrates like a piece of metal surrounded by magnets of equal attraction: it remains in its place, without losing its identity (topos, genius loci), since metal adjoined to magnet ceases to be what it is and becomes magnet. This unobtrusive neutral energy of postmodernism spreads equally in all directions, expressing no desire for any kind of force-effect which would drive the present state of affairs into a certain direction.

8. This is no longer the energy of history refuting itself, because out of the principally positive teleology it inevitably ends in the principally negative, destructive totalization. Let's say that history, the story of history, from the narrative perspective is a genre oxymoron – both a utopia and an apocalypse (Sioran). However, from another hermeneutics, which would be less fiction and much more faction, this oxymoron would necessarily lead to self-destruction. And, it is possible only in language, outside language it cannot survive. What is, in fact, history, if not a bloodthirsty illusion appearing only to those fatally infected with the virus of sense. There is no need to construct definitions – it is sufficient to point with a finger: everywhere around us and within us, there is an evident horrible effect of the consequences of history. And therefore, yet another reference to the difference between history and past will not be a general reference, but a vitally useful reminder that history need not be our entire or only past, and need not be our destiny. It may be useful to remind oneself that past never hurts.

9. Modern man has believed that his time flows from history. However, it is ontologically not true, since the temporal has primacy over the historical. Man really lives historically, aware of his own finality, but before that (in the ontological meaning of "before") he exists temporally. Noumenally, we are – if we are – only from time. Only subsequently, phenomenally, from history. History is a necessary, and time a sufficient condition and reason of existence. Only after this noumenal, crucial condition has been fulfilled, phenomenal completion is possible as a historic realization. "There is time that passes and time that never passes" – Ionesko said in his last interview. History is the time that passes: it originates, lasts and vanishes in order to be substituted by another history. Past is the time that never passes – time as time.

It has been proven that history cannot transform itself into an intellectual process. History is the form Modernist art uses to question the sense of time. Time itself is the only sense and meaning of Postmodernist unveiling of the gross misconception which serves as the foundation of history. And the only time which is a real human category is neither the present nor the future. Since history delegitimizes itself (Liotard), only the past is left for us as the period without history – the time which has anyway always been here, before history, parallel to it and after it – always beyond, always at the same distance where history cannot reach it: "pure" ahistoric time.

10. In the established postmodernist art, modernity is, with other cultural alternative phenomena, essentially identified by the postmodernist context. Past is not a historical category, but history is a category of the past, that is, time – legitimate as numerous other definitions of past. Whatever is modern, therefore, is a postmodernist phenomenon, and not the other way around... Concept depends on context, and not context on concept. Since concept is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for a certain context, while context is not only a necessary, but the sufficient condition of any concept. In analogous simplification, it can be presumed and determined: I am, for example, the same person when I laugh and when I am angry, when I write and when I am silent, when I am unconscious and when I walk in my sleep, etc. However, when I am only and continuously unconscious, or when I only laugh, or only walk in my sleep, etc... I am not a person.

The one who has chosen not to choose will easily understand and respect the one who has decided to choose. And the other, although other is still related, since refraining from choice means the choice of one of the alternatives as a direct choice also means the choice of an alternative. Direct choice, however, once it has been made, is no longer able to see the other as related to itself, because from the perspective of direct determination each other in itself can only be different, unrelated. And the unrelated is difficult to understand and respect, particularly for those who have a need for direct determination. This means that concept is possible within context, while context is not possible within concept, and the conclusion follows that postmodernism has primacy over modernism. Modernism, therefore, belongs to Postmodernism, and not vice versa, as Modernism has been in the habit of interpreting the relationship because it is not capable of understanding it differently.

11. To surmise: history is modern, the past postmodernist. The meaning of the present is nothing else but the present of a fierce desire for meaning. Instead of the future of the historic "now" imposed by modernism, postmodernism is transforming the historically programmed hardware into ahistoric software – into a directly temporal past of leveling between meaning and a "healthy" mistrust of meaning. Because there is nothing outside of the past, or, in other words, – outside of time.

What might be outside of the past would be outside of our experience, beyond human. This will be proven in the third part of the paper, and will emphasize the second important consequence of the proposed description of the past of art (in praise of what this text has been written). That consequence, which shows that postmodernist art is, in fact, the only possible art, will be yet another reason to accept the proposed notion of an equilibrium of relations between the past of the art and Postmodernist art.

Part Three: The Only Possible Art

BrankoPaviζ, Teme za velike gradove / Themes for Big Cities III, 1994.

1. In praise of the past I herewith enclose a short story, close to everyone:

A long white beach, sea is serene, almost all of the bathers have gone. A blue whale is in the deep waters. A girl is crouching by the water edge fumbling through pebbles. Washed and polished by the soft waves, the round little stones have slowly, imperceptibly attained their perfect shape. She feels through them, spills them from hand to hand, pushes them into a heap, then digs them out again and levels... She is playing, but as if trying to choose one among them for herself, to be her own.

She is not searching, but when she feels she has found one, she will put it in her pocket and take it along, home, to the town, far away from here. In the shell of her palm lies the chosen pebble of misty shine, like a big pearl. Later, in her room, while nocturnal stars are glittering outside, this silent, tiny, opaque thing will remind her of these moments before she falls asleep – of the murmur of the waves behind her back, the smells of the bygone summer, the horizon that can be reached by hand, of the big blue whale in the deep waters.

2. The story shows us two things: first, why the transformation of the present into the past is a good enough reason for the transformation of facts into values, and, secondly, what follows, as I will prove, from the first – that there is nothing outside the past. Nothing at all. It is evident from the story that what did not previously belong to our experience becomes enveloped in it. Thereby our experience should be taken according to the Aristotelian model of soul-sphere with both a concave and a convex side – two parts genuinely indiscernible one from another. This is true of experience as well – its epistemological dimension cannot be distinguished from the dimension of values, just like there is no sphere without a concave and a convex side – one dimension is imminently conditioned by the other. When we know that it is not difficult to understand the story: a meaningless object is transformed by experience into an object with meaning – worthless becomes worthy. In our knowledge, there is nothing without value and contrariwise – as soon as something has its value it is only because it has been incorporated into our cognizance.

In the child's imagination, moments of present are spontaneously shaped into memory. When she chooses her pebble and decides to take it with her, the girl does not experience the reality directly, but as if it were her memory: as if the pebble were in her room already, on the table by her bed. Only after she has imagined reality as the past, it becomes valuable, that is, already experienced. The natural necessity of cause-effect relations is only through a transfer in the past transposed into a humanly conceived relation of cause and purpose. Only when one thinks of the present (the hand feeling the pebbles), willingly or spontaneously, as the time past, the transference of the present into perfect will crown the little object of nature, until then quite worthless, with an aura of value. The natural has become human.

It seems that, had there been no past, there would be no beach, no summer, no horizon. And, what is even more important – there would be no girl.

3. The past is authentic, and according to the above, probably, the only form of human experience. We should explain here why should a successful transference of the natural into human take place in the past. In principle, it is the present which undergoes transformation: "everything that happens while we speak". There are no effects of the "now", we do not know of them because they are yet to be. In order to know the effects, we must reach the future, but it is not possible to do that from the time of our utterance. In time, one can go no further than the present, or back. Without a choice, we return to the past. Our pass-word is "Vade retro" – back to the time past, the only real time. Our temporal extensions are only theoretical projections, abstractions. The past is the only real temporal dimension of our world. Only there can we find causes whose effects can be known. It is only in the time passed that one can (at least in principle) dispose of the causes and effects of an event. Effects cannot be reached from the future because they do not yet exist, but they exist in the past and can be recognized by means of the corresponding causes that precede them. And, effects belong to the "near" and causes to the "farther" past. However, it is important that they are both – here, in front of us. Why is it important to know the causes and effects: because in that way we gather the necessary elements to create reasons and purposes. By means of spontaneity of our cognitive-evaluative powers, causes are transformed into reasons, and effects into purposes, thus creating our "concave-convex" experience: natural (cause-effect) becomes human (valuable-meaningful). It is only then that we experience an event.

4. A direct "now" and "here" experience is not possible. It is the matter of a principled delay of experience over event, over the reality without the agency of our cognizance: an event is always in the fore, always before perception. One can find in Hegel's "The Phenomenology of Mind" (the chapter on sensual certainty) a most serious analysis and a far-reaching interpretation of this phenomenon ("Being is always having been"). But even without studying Hegel, many of us have noticed that the thing must first happen in order to be perceived and experienced. And so the essence of happening is "reversed": something has first to be experienced in order to have happened at all.

Testimony conditions the event. In order to experience something worthy of testimony, it must be in the past, because neither the present not the future are accessible to our experience. (When someone close and dear dies, months, even years, pass before we really become aware that the beloved person is no more. Our experience rejects the event...)

And so, reality is not what is happening at this very moment – although we believe it to be so – but something past, always behind us in time. The present is, necessarily, our memory of the present, in other words – the past. Past tense is the authentic human time. Music can here serve as a good analogy: the tone we hear is such only because of the tone that follows – i.e. only when it becomes the past – and the next one because of another tone following.

Time in history is measured forwards, in past it is measured backwards. When time is measured backwards, not much attention is paid to how things begin, but how they end: what precedes stands against that which follows, and not conversely. Like in Borges' account of hyperborean cranes: birds that fly backwards because they do not mind whereto they fly, but wherefrom they come. These cranes, if the account is true, are not the beings of Nature, like other birds, but much more human beings.

5. The past is, therefore, synonymous with human experience. Everything that exists for us, is in the past. The past is our only reality. For us – the past is everything. Everything is simultaneous because everything is always already in the past. And so it is with art: the concurrence of the time past, as a synchrony of the "asynchronous" is the only temporal dimension. Art which is not in the past – does not exist for us.

Out of my former conclusion that the art of the past concedes with the art of postmodernism, I can now draw a logical statement that we live in the time ("with" the time) when art which is not Postmodernist – is not possible. More consistently: all of the existing art is – Postmodernist. Because it is not possible for art not to be past. No longer is there the art of history, with its corresponding notions – the concept of the history of art. Instead of that, we are witnessing the art of the past and its corresponding notion – the context of the past of art.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

6. It is a clear night and only the blind man finds no enjoyment in constellations.

If we compare art to the star-spangled sky, by arranging all stars into the existing (a metaphor related to the current art of living artists) and the non-existing (the art of the preceding times) we would get a convincing image of postmodernist art as represented here. The art of the past as postmodernist art (or conversely – postmodernist art as the art of the past) is in fact similar to the light of the stars in a nocturnal sky: they shine simultaneously with an equally supernatural brightness, both those that existed a long time before us and those that exist together with us. The radiation of an immanent esthetic value enchants one notwithstanding the time the works were created. According to our human appraisal, this brightness is everlasting. The two thousand years of astronomy have no record that a star once seen has vanished from the firmament. It may have been neglected for a while, or forgotten, disregarded – but it has, nevertheless, been there (for all those who wanted to see it).

Since theoria originally means observation, clear insight, constellation brings art back from the distorted state of conceptualization (truths, ideas, histories, logic, museums, "gastronomy", mind) into the authentic state of visualization (metaphor, image, sensuality, context, looking, "astronomy", planetarium, eye).

If we accept the comparison – that the works of art are stars – postmodernist art is a constellation of all constellations: the grouping together of all stars, or a direct mutuality of heavenly arrangement. In that case, the category of constellation has at least two essential levels of meaning: the de-ideologized horizontals stationing brings about an irrelevance of the historical dimension of appearance in experience (the non-existing and the existing stars shine with the same brightness). Constellation is, therefore, a never ending context sub speciae aeternitatis of mutually tolerant values.

Who does not see, should imagine (not difficult!): art is a constellation, the past is a constellation, postmodernism is a constellation.

7. A vast bright lace on a silent blue background.

A blue whale in the deep waters.

At night, in her room, on the table by her bedside, there lies a perfect pebble, once gathered on a beach. Outside, noiseless and far away, stars are shining. The bright nocturnal sky is beyond history – constellations are always there. The girl sleeps peacefully.

8. Since the past will never pass for us, neither will the art of the past. By saying that the art of the past is postmodernist art, I assert that postmodernist art will never pass.

9. It seems that the arrangement of stars is on our side

// Project Rastko / Art / The art at the end of the century /
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