The past is present Curating multi-temporality: the contemporary and the classical


  • Polina Kosmadaki The Benaki Museum



A recent trend within classical studies has been to readjust our perspective on what we call the classical by insisting ‘on the inextricable role of classical antiquity in informing the present and the importance of the study of antiquity for the practice of history and the humanities themselves in a technologically advanced, rapidly changing, globalized world’. Of course, classical eras existed and persist in several civilisational traditions. Here the focus is on the classical in its encounters with the contemporary in the field of contemporary art and curating. In this context, following James Porter’s topical propositions about ‘what is classical in classical antiquity’, the classical is considered as something that describes not a series of real properties in the world but a set of attitudes about the world; something that is predominantly a ‘habitus and a structure of feeling, by definition elusive, fleeting, paradoxical’, and which is ‘always in question and uncertain of itself”.This concept is used to rethink the classical alongside reframing strategies for contemporary art in cultural institutions with historical collections, and to reflect on curatorial and artistic practices that engage with the notion of non-linear temporality.