Highlights 2013 - Timotheus Vermeulen

Timotheus Vermeulen is Assistant Professor in Cultural Theory at Radboud University Nijmegen, where he also heads the Centre for New Aesthetics. He is co-founding editor of the academic arts and culture webzine Notes on Metamodernism. He is currently completing two books on metamodernism.

BY Timotheus Vermeulen in Features | 17 DEC 13


Ever since I moved to Dusseldorf last year, there have been a number of exciting shows: Thomas Saraceno at K21 Ständehaus, Ed Atkins and Frances Stark at the Julia Stoschek Collection, Rob Voerman at the Weltkunstzimmer, Daiga Grantina at Max Mayer (all in Dusseldorf), as well as Christian Falsnaes at Raum Drei in Cologne, and Timur Si-Qin at Bonner Kunstverein. Also good was the group exhibition Drawing a Universe at Dusseldorf’s KAI 10. Elsewhere, I really enjoyed Arnout Mik’s solo show at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. One other show that left its mark was Andy Holden’s exceptional exhibition MIMS! at the Zabludowicz Collection in London, a moving exploration both of youthful idealism and contemporary uncertainty and irony. It is a rare thing, at least for me, to be moved to tears at a contemporary art show, but this one did the trick.


I am always late to the literary scene, so technically I am cheating when I say Adam Thirlwell’s 2012 novel Kapow is the absolute highlight of 2013, but I will say it anyways. It is an amazing little book, which I recommend to everyone. The rediscovery of John Edward Williams’ Stoner (1965) was a nice surprise, though the novel is certainly not as fantastic as some critics make it out to be. Slavoj Zizek’s latest, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, is very clever, albeit clearly hurried. I loved Joris Luyendijk’s analyses of the banking system in The Guardian. As far as criticism goes, I very much enjoyed reading Emily Nussbaum’s TV reviews in The New Yorker.


Gravity was a highlight, obviously; but otherwise, it has been a bleak year for cinema I feel (especially in comparison with 2012, which saw the premieres of brilliant docs like The Act of Killing and The Invisible War). It may be, however, that I watch the wrong films. A sucker for over the top slapstick comedies, I cannot wait for Anchorman 2 to come out here in Germany, for instance. Not a joke: I really can’t wait.


This year wasn’t as good a year for TV as last year, but there were some pretty wonderful moments. Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake was amazing, for one. Christopher Guest’s Family Tree was very sweet, touching and funny. Mad Men was great again. The Good Wife is having a very decent season. Arrested Development, though not as hilarious as I would have hoped, definitely worthwhile. Veep was very OK. Non-fiction highlight: Russel Brand’s appearance on Newsnight. He received a lot of slack, but I thought he was brilliant, the embodiment of politics 2.0: just because we don’t know what the alternative looks like does not mean it doesn’t exist.

Timotheus Vermeulen is professor in Media, Culture and Society at the University of Oslo.