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Conquering the Present in the Long Sixties: The curatorial birth of contemporary art
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Conquering the present in the Long Sixties is an art historical essay. The book presents a new understanding of the art work in the 1960s and how a predominant interest in the present formed contemporary art as we know it today. A wide range of examples of the era’s artistic experiments, curatorial visions, and new institutions, and even the protest actions against them, show an intense discussion of the contemporary condition. According to Kristian Handberg, this situation can be explained through the concept of Gegenwardsbewältigung: a way of working-through the present that is actively conquering and critically reflexive and that is carried out by individual artists as well as whole institutions. The book presents a rendition of the Sixties art world, which takes us through a new reading of the triumph of total abstraction at documenta as a focus on the contemporary, the significance of Scandinavian art museums for the breakthrough of American Pop Art, a Soviet cosmonaut as exhibiting artist at the Venice Biennale in the midst of the turmoil of 1968, and the legendary documenta 5 exhibition in 1972 as a Wunderkammer of the whole Sixties.