Notes Toward a Peculiar Romanticism by Andrew Prieto MFA AP14

Participant Review: Andrew Prieto MFA AP14

Andrew Prieto (MFA AP14) has been thinking a lot while he works on his final Thesis Project (due in July), especially in his online coursework for Daniel Kunitz’s (AP Faculty) class “Artist’s Writings.” He has set out to fashion a bold theory of the moment based on his own observations and readings. Sidestepping all references to the plurality of post-postmodernisms such asaltermodernhypermodernism, metamodernismdigimodernism, evenautomodernism, he reaches back into modernism’s formative years, to romanticism. For Prieto, our period is one of a “peculiar romanticism” rooted in the real (e.g., earthly battles and planetary holocausts), tinged with muted shades of optimism, and even unbridled bouts of nostalgic gravitas (if such a thing can be said to exist). Some of you may want to read Alan Kirby’s, “Succesor states to empire in free fall” written for THE (Times Higher Education) in 2010 as a companion piece to Prieto’s thoughts.

As the 70s and 80s was a moment when scholars, cultural critics, philosophers and theorists set out to contain the mass of knotted historical, economic, and technological continuities and transformations wrought in time and space since the late 19th century, this second decade of the new millennium is one of active theoretical soul searching as well.  (Or maybe better said, of successive instances of earnest “neologismic” pyrotechnics.) Whatever the result, artists and writers of today struggle to contain and describe the dense and yes, highly accelerated material differences of, wow, only a few decades ago. Such is the symptom from which “peculiar romanticism” develops. But a footnote before I end. Calling upon Hayden White, Frederic JamesonGilles Deleuze, Manuel Delanda and others, we must caution against producing a streamlined view of historical change as simply linear. But such questioning of history is itself a symptom of our times. The question is how to write, think, and make art of “one’s times”—that famous trope of modernism that still haunts us—within a dynamic, nonlinear notion of time.

If you would like to take a stab at this. Please join the conversation.

Thyrza Nichols Goodeve



There is a new variety of romanticism appearing in contemporary art and culture. Much like the first radical period of Romanticism, which was a movement of revolt against the normative constraints of enlightenment rationalism, we are now witnessing a similar (even necessary) response to our current, globalized, digitized culture and compromised ecology. One could argue that this strain is less about apprehension and awe, and more about pragmatism and survival; a way of stimulating radical aspects of a lost idealism in the face of postmodern cynicism. I am speaking about a sort of meta-romanticism that is tethered rather than opposed to realism. The possibility of restructuring the real is vital and potentially revolutionary. Ultimately this directive must in some ways be connected to and expedited by the global cultural climate since the start of the 2000’s. For the 21st century has witnessed new definitions of war (the hands off, videogame-like use of drones for example), a global economic crisis of major proportions, and the ever increasing visibility of everything all the time, not to mention the effect that all of this technology is having on the sustainability of our ecology. We are shell-shocked by information, by its sheer volume and ubiquity, as well as the havoc from man-made climate change.  A drop of romanticism might be necessary (could I have said that?).

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