Search type


States of flux

Disentangling the contemporary in art and culture since 1970.

Lead: Roddy Hawkins


This research group has been established to share and advance knowledge of ‘the contemporary’ in art and culture produced since the onset of neoliberalism in the 1970s. The history of the last half century is one of rapid change, with not only states of various kinds in a state of constant flux, but also many of our established paradigms and approaches to the study of this period. In the increasingly unstable climate of the twenty-first century, there is a sense of urgency and struggle over the terrain of the contemporary.

Not only does this require us to develop our understanding of the ways in which different states of flux manifest themselves in art and culture; we also need to consider how best to engage, critique and communicate (to the outside world, in our teaching and to our research communities) when our own paradigms are themselves in flux. The destabilisation of our world, and our ideas about it, has exerted myriad influences on methodological and theoretical innovation in the study of art and culture. As the number and range of entanglements multiply – and the exploration of previously neglected or minor practices continues – established categories and hierarchies for ‘mapping’ the contemporary appear increasingly outdated.

The group asks what scholars of art and culture, especially those involved in ‘writing culture’, must address in the light of this state of constant flux. It aims to encompass all aspects of art and culture wherever the question of ‘the contemporary’, its ideological formations and its entanglements proves problematical and productive.


The group’s initial membership includes