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.
'World Pictures: A Minor History of Biennial' - The primary exhibition venue for much new art is an international circuit of fairs and biennials, many of which are less than two decadesold. Much of this art problematizes its own cosmopolitanism and novelty, depicting mobile populations or exotic locations while conforming to the most current technical standards. Criticaldiscussion of such work often assumes that biennials give us the most direct access to global contemporary art, and that the concepts of "the global" and "the contemporary" are interrelated or even interchangeable. But what if this isn't the case? This course will explore the implications of this question by developing an alternative history of the contemporary biennial, focusing on developments outside or in opposition to the global North. We will begin by studying theories of postcolonialism, globalization, and "the contemporary." We will then considerhistoric precedents for biennialization, including the political and artistic conventions associated with the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1960s, and the development of periodic exhibitions in sites like Cuba in the 1980s. The bulk of thecourse will consist of case studies of important exhibitionssince 1989, including the following: Dak'Art, the Asia-Pacific Triennial, the Emergency Biennale of Chechnya, and the Baltic Triennial. We will meet with curators, critics, and arthistorians with experience or expertise in this field.