de-contemporary is a softly-curated collection of book synopses focusing on cultural theory written in the last 20 years. With a loose focus on art, technology, and political theory, the collection is meant to facilitate research practices through condensed overviews in accessible language and curatorial engagement such as reading lists and syllabi. Born from an interest in enabling greater retention and immersion in reading practices, de-contemporary was modeled in the vision of a pooled annotated bibliography sourced from many wide-ranging research practices.
As theory informs practice and policy, de-contemporary’s goal is to support and engage with work that enables subversive practices towards a future that gives the most agency, safety, and comfort to all people.
For a project that exists to unpack the contemporary condition of oversaturation, rapid change, and absurdism, “de-contemporary” as a term was coined by an online blog title generator. A comical stand-in for the fashionable semi-critical function of affixing a de- or post- prefix to a weighty term signaling distance or critique, de-contemporary earnestly pokes fun at the shortcomings of academic language and conventions of scholarship.
As the efficacy of satire as a critical medium rapidly withers, de-contemporary also has an earnest ideological investment in deconstructing, undercutting, and dismantling the assumptions that have built the more sinister structures of the Contemporary, and to fight the calcification of this cultural moniker of our current reality into an unmoving set of short-sighted givens and limiting standards. De-contemporizing the Contemporary, we hope to encourage deep engagement, critical re-thinking, and creativity in the ways we define and understand the Contemporary to maintain the agency and openness of a fluid, evolving, active present.