Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2015. 212 pages, illus. ISBN-13: 978-0-692-35126-0. DOI: 10.21983/P3.0087.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $21.00 in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.


This book touches at hot stuff. Not only have we ‘never been modern’ (Latour) or postmodern, but even not so contemporary. C.B. Johnson offers a glimpse into what is, at best, a strange and Utopian, millenaristic condition (Agamben), at worst, an arrogant attempt on the part of power to put an end to the flow of time.

~ Franco La Cecla, author of Against Architecture

This book makes an important contribution in defining and evaluating the alternative concept of ‘contemporaneity’….Scholars and students of modernism, of museum history and of modern architecture in general will find Modernity without a Project highly relevant and stimulating.

~ Bart Verschaffel, Professor of Architecture at Ghent University

Modernity Without a Project: Essay on the Void Called Contemporary

This provocative and interesting book argues that the celebratory discourse of ‘the contemporary’ is not as innocent as it seems, but is geared towards cancelling out or negating the capital-unfriendly scepticism of modernism and postmodernism. This study contributes significantly to the field of what might be termed critical cultural studies, particularly with regard to the understanding of art and architecture as they are mobilised in the first part of the 21st century.

~ Ian Buchanan, Director of the Institute for Social Transformation Research, University of Wollongong

Entering the 21st century, the postmodern succession has given way to a doom-laden, apolitical orthodoxy. This book offers suggestive readings of “the contemporary” in light of high modernity, postwar modernity, and postmodernity, as framed by the influential institutions of modern art and the spectacles of millennial architecture. Modernity without a Project critiques and connects historical avant-garde currents as they are institutionally expressed or captured, and scrutinizes the remake of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Minoru Yamasaki’s vanished Utopias, the “anarchitecture” of Lebbeus Woods, recent work of Rem Koolhaas, delirious developments in Dubai, and the unexpected contribution to architectural debate by the late Hugo Chavez.

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