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Introduction to Contemporary Arts and Politics

Bachelor's level | 15 credits | Course code: VFSPOL
75% Distance
Period: 10 June 2019 - 1 September 2019
2 Closed GU-35100
75% Distance
Period: 8 June 2020 - 30 August 2020
2 Opens 20 February GU-35100
2) Only EU/EEA citizens and students with approved residence permit in Sweden can apply

About the Course


There is a long tradition of interaction between questions of politics and questions of art. However, arguably it is in contemporary art that this dialogue between art and politics has become most intense, leading to a fundamental interrogation of the nature of both: What is the political? What is the political agency of artistic practice? How are these terms articulated? What is possible in thinking at the intersection of art and politics?

We are seeing today, what seem to be fundamental changes in political cultures and geopolitics with respect to the dominant neoliberal globalism of the 1990s. This change is manifest in developments as widely distributed and various as: internationally orchestrated anti-migrant mobilisations, resurgent ethno-nationalisms, and various forms of separatism and attempts at secession, from Brexit to the Catalan independence referendum; the “ebb” of the so-called Latin American “pink tide” and ensuing reactionary responses; the renewals of populist right wing extremism and crony capitalism from Erdoğan to Bolsonaro, and from Orbán to Trump; ongoing geo-political contestations that recall the historical struggles of “great powers” as seen in the Ukraine, Central Caucus, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Middle-East, and jostling for hegemony in the South China Sea and wider Asia-Pacific; the seeming failure of international policy responses to climate change and environmental degradation; the changing formations of political action from kulturkampf to information war, from occupy to direct action, from Black Lives Matter to Rhodes-must-fall, from feminist mobilisations locally and globally to renewed and continuing struggles by indigenous peoples; and the seeming crisis of a foundational feminist axiom that “the personal is the political” in an era of social media click-bait narcissism and algorithmic injustice.

There has been for decades now a massive growth in the diversity and volume of issues arising within different art practices. Issues as diverse as the relationship between art and activism, feminism, queer culture, ecological crisis, postcolonialism, decolonialism, racism, xenophobia, anti-capitalism, the role of the avant-garde, renewed nationalisms, institutional critique, self-organisation, and many other conjunctions of art and politics, ranging across the macro- and the micro-political scale. With this there has also been a profound and growing suspicion of the import of political rhetorics rehearsed and displayed within art systems.

Through taking this course you will have an opportunity to build your own map of the contemporary art field and the different ways it intersects – or fails to intersect – with questions of the political. We will also explore together how this may now be changing under the impact of recent changes in the wider political field. As part of this process you will also be given a brief introduction to some of the key theorists and ideas shaping contemporary political theory and debate.

The teaching team is led by Prof. Mick Wilson with invited guests at the workshop intensives.

•    The course is taught as a distance course through English, and includes online presentations based on pre-set readings and viewing of material online.
•    You are expected to attend ONE of three workshops in person and participate in discussion, and are welcome to attend more than one.
•    Assessment is based on a visual essay (a format described and explained during the course itself).
•    Final assessment takes place via online submission and written feedback.
•    Students are responsible for their own costs of attending the workshop(s).

More Information

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Course Syllabus


Requirements and Selection

Requirements: General entrance requirements

Selection: The selection will be made from the assessment of work samples. Information and instructions regarding the work samples can be found under each course or programme description on The assessment of the application is made by an admission jury. Admission is decided by the head of department at the suggestion of an admission committee. Applications that do not include submitted work samples are considered incomplete and therefore void.

Tuition Fee

Tuition fee for event
Application fee: 900 SEK
Full course cost 67 250 SEK First payment 67 250 SEK
EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees.
More information on:

Tuition fee for event
Application fee: 900 SEK
Full course cost 68 071 SEK First payment 68 071 SEK
EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees.
More information on:

Study Guidance

Lena Collin
Contact form
031 - 786 1107
Kristinelundsgatan 6-8


Valand Academy
Box 132
40530 Göteborg
Visiting address: Vasagatan 50

Page Manager: Pontus Sundén
Last update: 6/15/2018 12:12 PM

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Page Manager: Pontus Sundén|Last update: 10/16/2018

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