Ph.D., associate professor of the cultural sciences of Higher School of Economics, program consultant
— At first glance, it seems obvious that historical time is divided into ages, eras, periods and generations. The categories which designate them, such as «antiquity» and «middle ages», «feudalism» and «capitalism», «classicism» and «romanticism», «60s» and «70s, «ottepel'» and «perestroika» often do not require explanation. Learned back at school, they seem self-evident. It is doubtless that every period has its clear time limits, as well as a set of specific characteristics, through which we can identify it and distinguish from any other. Looking at a thoughtful gargoyle, we understand that it would be a fragment of a Gothic cathedral. Seeing on the wall a portrait of Hemingway in a sweater, we understand that we are in a Soviet apartment from 60's. Certain things are easy to form into a gestalt, and in the mind there appears a guess that some time our age will also get its nickname, and will be immediately answering to it. Guess is replaced by eager curiosity, the curiosity being replaced by desire to collect by ourselves all the keys to the present on one ring, to become Columbuses of our own epoch.
But are there gestalts of eras in reality, or are they merely a result of simplifying revision of the past? Aren't they created by the optics of our historical, retrospective vision that doesn't tolerate homogeneity and continuity? Finally, aren't they arbitrary constructs, created by historians, intellectuals, status groups or educational systems, power relations and division of labor? Is it correct to speak about «code of the epoch»? Or is the very concept of «code», despite its neutrality and technicality, loaded with ideologies?
Even if the idea of epochs is just a construct, and the «code of epoch» is an ideologeme, it still remains undeniable that artists, philosophers and scientists passionately desire to think in terms of these notions, as well as to understand what is the time in which we live. So what does this preoccupation with present suggest? It is symptom and sign of what? Who, for what reason, under which circumstances, on the basis of which criteria, with which tools and with which consequences is attempting to draw borders of contemporaneity?
We suggest to answer these questions in the course of the Round Table «Zeitgeist. Is the decoding possible?» in the framework of international multi-genre creative project in the field of contemporary art, music and dance – «Zeitgeist».
The All-Russian Museum of Applied and Folk Art, International Culture Project "Art-Residence"
Curators of the festival: Konstantin Grouss, Dmitry Alexeev
Kod Epohi / Zeitgeist
Contemporary art, music, dance in the world of ideas and objects
14-24 March, 2013