Instrumental Aesthetics:Contemporary Art, Politics and Visual Culture
Module code: V4151A
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework
You explore the tensions and possibilities of art and politics by placing politicised modes of contemporary art practice in the context of a wider image culture.
Focusing on 2001 to now, you'll consider the complex ways in whch images act both to subvert and reinforce aspects of neoliberal capitalism, through a series of key questions:
- What part did the online circulation of images play in revolutions in the Arab World, and how have artists responded to this?
- How does the artistic manufacture of experimental social relations figure in relation to recent modes of performative protest?
- What roles have images played in the 'war on terror'?
- Does a creative engagement with the memories of European socialism reinforce a historical remove, or provide the means for rehabilitation?
- Is it possible to use art to critique the politial and economic operations of globalization, when structural aspects of the art world reinforce them?
- Can images ever work against the logic of 'the spectacle'?
You'll address these questions through the work of artists such as:
- Jeremy Deller
- Broomberg and Chanarin
- Omer Fast
- Steve McQueen
- Santiago Sierra
- Ronnie Close
- Thomas Hirschorn
- Anthony Livera
- Julian Germain
- Corinne Silva
- Thomson and Craighead
- Yto Barrada
- Phil Collins.
You will look at key texts by writers including:
- Guy Debord
- Henri Lefeubvre
- David Harvey
- Martha Rosler
- Hal Foster
- Nicolas Bourriard
- Ariella Azoulay
- TJ Demos
- Julian Stallabrass.
You'll also look at examples of contemporary image culture, ranging from advertising to activist videos, online protest imagery to footage from military drones.
Module learning outcomes
- Engage critically with relationsips between politicised art practices and a wider image culture.
- Place these practices in a variety of social, cultural and theoretical contexts.
- Carry out independent research into relevant topics.
- Engage critically with a range of primary and secondary sources relevant to the study of contemporary art and politics.
- Present and discuss relevant topics in a seminar environment.