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Introduktion till samtidskonst och politik

Grundnivå | 15 hp | Kurskod: VFSPOL
75% Distans
Period: 10 juni 2019 - 1 september 2019

Om kursen

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: in Dublin, Venice and Gothenburg.
•    There are no online meetings between July 8 and August 5 however, participants are expected to conduct independent research and work on their visual essay project during this period.
•    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).

How to apply - Summer 2019

The application is made in two steps:

    1. Register for the course at
    2. Submit a work sample in SlideRoom

     For more information about work sample, application and deadlines,  scroll down on this page:


Draft Schedule of Topics

Note: All times are based on Swedish time (CET). This is a provisional advance schedule and may be subject to some minor adjustments. The schedule will be finalised at the time of registration on the course.

Tuesday 11 June 16:00-17:30

Session 1: Course introduction and visual essay task     


Wednesday 12 June 16:00-17:30

Session 2: Thematic case study: Emmet Till, Black Lives Matter, and the 2017 Whitney controversy


Thursday 13 June 16:00-17:30

Session 3: Seminar

Monday 17 June 16:00-17:30

Session 4: What is “politics”? What is the “political”?

Tuesday 18 June 16:00-17:30

Session 5: Seminar

Wednesday 19 June 16:00-17:30

Session 6: Some examples of where questions of art and questions of politics intersect

Tuesday 25 June 16:00-17:30

Session 7: Thematic case study: Kulturkampf, modernism, and cold war cultural politics

Wednesday 26 June 16:00-17:30

Session 8: Seminar

Thursday 27 June 16:00-17:30

Session 9: Thematic case study: Feminist cultural politics and the art system

Tuesday 2 July 16:00-17:30

Session 10: Seminar
Dublin Intensive - What is the political imaginary?
Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July

Thursday 4 July 11:00-18:00 (to be posted online after the event)

Session 11: Dublin Intensive Day 1
Exhibition-making and the thematisation of politics
What is neoliberalism? What is the relationship of neoliberalism to art?
How is neoliberalism transforming in an era of resurgent ethno-nationalism?


Friday 5 July 11:00-18:00 (to be posted online after the event)

Session 12: Dublin Intensive Day 2
From institutional critique to the critique of infrastructure
Changing terms of the politics of subjectivity in contemporary art.
What is a visual essay?
Closing review discussion


  • One week vacation break - July 8 to July 14 (week 28) is a vacation and there is no course work to be done

Independent research period

Monday July 15 to Friday August 2

Participants in the course are required to conduct independent research individually or in small study groups during this three-week period, during which there will be no online sessions. This is also the period of time during which the visual essay material should be generated.
Venice Intensive – Necropolitics in Venice

Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 August


Monday 5 August 12:00-19:00

Session 13: Venice Intensive Day 1 (to be posted online after the event)
Migrant deaths and arts festivals
The biennial form and the political economy of contemporary art


Tuesday 6 August 12:00-19:00

Session 14: Venice Intensive Day 2 (to be posted online after the event)
Looking at violence
Artistic research and knowledge politics
Closing review discussion


Tuesday 13 August 16:00-17:30

Session 15: Online workshop on visual essay

Thursday 15 August 16:00-17:30

Session 16: Thematic case study: The social turn and its discontents

Tuesday 20 August 16:00-17:30

Session 17: Thematic case study: GULF Labour and the Global White Cube

Wednesday 21 August 16:00-17:30

Session 18: What are the political stakes in the idea of the aesthetic and the modern system of the arts?

Thursday 22 August 16:00-17:30

Session 19: Global imaginaries and exhibition histories
Gothenburg Intensive
Thursday 29 – Friday 30 August
Session 20 & Session 21 Content to be announced

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Behörighet och urval

Förkunskapskrav: Grundläggande behörighet

Urval: Urvalet baseras på arbetsprov. Information och anvisningar för arbetsprovet hittar du under respektive kurs- eller programbeskrivning på Beslut om antagning sker av prefekt på förslag av en särskild antagningskommitté. Ansökan är ej komplett utan ett inskickat arbetsprov.


Lena Collin
031 - 786 1107
Kristinelundsgatan 6-8

Kursen ges vid

Akademin Valand
Box 132
40530 Göteborg
Besöksadress: Vasagatan 50

Sidansvarig: Pontus Sundén
Sidan uppdaterades: 2018-06-15 12:12

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Sidansvarig: Pontus Sundén|Sidan uppdaterades: 2019-01-10

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