Critical Theory/Art History 2

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CURPR-602

Taught over two semesters, this seminar provides an introduction to key concepts in art history, theory and criticism in relation to current social, political and philosophical concerns. Its goal is to bring students into contact with primary texts relevant to the theory and practice of art today, to imagine affinities and conversations across the geography of the 20th Century. Seminars will often be devoted to a single, indicative exhibition or body of work that will serve as a focus for the larger theoretical issues at hand.

Third Spaces: Reframing Global Art. Recent critical, curatorial, and art historical discourse on globalization has too often been compromised by a set of fallacies. Art from the global South is frequently read as "influenced by" (read: derivative of) Northern art forms, or interpreted according to normative, teleological models of modernization. Globalization is mistakenly viewed as a purely contemporary phenomenon, or it is promoted under the sign of a generic cosmopolitanism. This class aims to challenge such misconceptions by considering a series of case studies from outside the North Atlantic, ranging historically from the decolonization movements of the 1960s to the present. We will start with readings in postcolonial theory, world systems theory, and recent art historical attempts to theorize contemporaneity and globalization. We will then embark upon a number of historical studies, touching on artworks, exhibitions, and criticism, and including the following subjects: Third Cinema and the global essay film; Eastern Bloc conceptualism; actions in Latin America; Land Art in Israel and the occupied territories; performance in China. The course will end by considering more recent developments, including social practice in West Africa and the emergence of video as a global format.