In a number of discursive spaces, but perhaps most especially in artworld discourse, the idea of the “contemporary” (as the reflexive name for a state of time or a state of being) has gained considerable traction.1 Beyond the familiar busyness of academic theory, this speculative concept-making is part of an important and provocative attempt to give the question of the present—the time we live in—some critical specificity with respect to temporal notions of pastness (what is no more) as well as futurity (what is not yet). There are many thinkers whose work might provoke us here, but in this very brief note the author whose work will frame my discussion is the prolific art critic Terry Smith, who is now almost never not writing about, or explicating, the contemporary.2 For him, the contemporary in art is the name...

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