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The Tate's Triennial show isn't nearly as original as its curator claims. But its dazzling revivalism is just what 21st-century art needs

By Ben Lewis   March 2009

The world is changing culturally as well as economically. Just as we are returning to formerly discredited economic values and models—like nationalisation and pump-priming—older aesthetic values and models are also coming back into vogue. An early sign of this is the title of this year’s Tate Triennial, Altermodern. That’s a neologism, coined by the show’s celebrated and imaginative French curator and theorist Nicholas Bourriaud, and it contains big implications for how our view of art might change.

Altermodern is nothing less than an attempt to define a new “ism,” and thereby to rehabilitate the 19th-century art historical concept that each…

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