Off Modern: In What Time Do We Live?

Off Modern: In What Time Do We Live? is the first in a series of interconnected exhibitions opening over the next six months at The Luminary. The exhibition will feature work from Elizabeth Atterbury, Bruce Burton, Laura Ann Davis, Vaughn Davis, Jeff Eaton, Assaf Evron, Tatiana Istomina, Nicholas Mangan, David Whelan, and Steph Zimmerman.

Off-Modern: In What Time Do We Live? acts as an atlas pinning together images to make small marks of historical change and cultural recurrence comprehensible.

The title suggests a preliminary remark. Strictly speaking, the state of things is a fiction. A “state of things” is a set of relations between the perceptible, the thinkable, and the doable that defines a common world, defining the way in which, and the extent to which, this or that class of human beings takes part in that common world.

Off-modern follows a non-linear conception of cultural evolution. The “off” in “off-modern” designates both the belonging to the critical project of modernity and its edgy excess. It signifies both intimacy and estrangement, belonging and longing to take off. In the twenty-first century, modernity is our antiquity. We live with its ruins, which we incorporate into our present, leaving deliberate scars or disguising our age marks.

A formula such as “times have changed” seems quite innocuous, but it is easy to convert it into a statement of impossibility. “Times have changed” does not simply mean that certain things have disappeared. It means that they have become impossible, no longer belonging to what the new times make possible. The empirical idea of time as a succession of moments has been substituted by an idea of time as a set of possibilities. “Times have changed” means: “this or that is no longer possible”.

The exhibition title and statement are an interpretive interreading of Svetlana Boym's "off-modern manifesto" and Jacques Ranciere's lecture "In What Time Do We Live?"


The Luminary's exhibitions are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, the Missouri Arts Council and our members.

Selected Press:
West End Word