Faculty: Patricia Phillips
Some of the most exciting and urgent works of the past 20 years have occurred in the public sphere, beyond the traditional parameters, conditions, and conventions of the gallery or the museum. Terms including social or relational aesthetics, new genre public art, dialogic art, participatory art, and tactical media have been used to define a wide, often unruly range of divergent practices and projects. That a relatively small number of these significant projects is known at is the consequence of an art media and art criticism that generally is fixated on the gallery as a site of display and potential commerce. While the public sphere has its own connection to contemporary cultural capitalism, it remains a more open and dynamic realm. It is broadly defined as "anyplace" and "anytime" between the street and the Internet and has become a critical site for artists motivated by a sense of political or social urgency, a desire to be "resistively creative", an interest in exploring new forms of collaboration, artist-initiated or non-sanctioned work, the desire to work ephemerally, or, simply and directly, a need to communicate with a less insular, more diverse audience - the accidental public.
Agents of the Now is an active, peripatetic course designed for graduate students from a range of fields and disciplines who are interested in extending their practice beyond the studio or other conventions of production to engage and work within the public realm. During the semester, we will attempt to answer questions such as:
What are the privileges and pitfalls that face artists when they make use of their independent "cultural capital"? How does the need for legibility change when artists work outside of the rarified walls of the white cube or a particular discipline? How do artists prepare to engage significant political issues to ensure that their work achieves the depth and complexity of the problems addressed? What does it mean to seek to communicate with both intentional and inadvertent (accidental) audiences?
The course will be structured around topical or thematic clusters. Students' projects (and the sites and situations they choose) will evolve out of assigned readings, class discussion, and tactical planning -- both individually and collaboratively. Readings of texts by Claire Bishop, William Pope.L, Nicholas Bourriaud, Miwon Kwon, Rem Koolhaas, Hakim Bey, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marjetica Potrc, Brian Holmes, Gregory Sholette, Suzanne Lacy, Rosalyn Deutsche, Hans Haacke, and others will provide a rich, diverse theoretical context for students' independent proposals and projects. Given that the objective of this class is to extend the artist's and designer's work beyond the conventions of the studio, class participation and collaborative projects will be encouraged. Visiting artists and critics, as well as field trips to New York and Boston, will supplement the course.