Undergraduate Degree




DD3010 Issues in Global Contemporary Art

[Lectures: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: Nil; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

The objective of this course is to introduce the students to the debate on global contemporary art by exposing them to a number of relevant issues current within visual art scene worldwide.


The course examines the problems arising from the diversity of art forms, objects and gestures characterized under the term ‘contemporary art’. It explores the nature of the ‘contemporary’, its (a)historicity and its connection with related terms such as international art, global art and post-modernity. It introduces a series of global case studies and art works, from which dilemmas and paradoxes pertaining to contemporary art are examined and debated. The course is situated in the late twentieth and early twenty first century world conditions such as globalization, late capitalism, the rapid rise and intensity of internet and cyber cultures. Within this context, the course approaches a cultural platform characterized by postcolonial critiques, environmental consciousness, a new mobility of artists, the proliferation of biennales and blockbuster shows and the rise of the trans-cultural curator. Art historical, critical and cultural theoretical insights will be applied to art practices ranging from the persisting traditional or classical forms to contemporary, high-tech or new media.

Course Outline




Introduction: Historical and conceptual outlines of the “global” and the “contemporary” in the visual arts


The legacy of conceptualism: art led research and research led art


The contemporary object: transience


The contemporary object: immateriality


The contemporary object: site-specific


Social and political concerns: genre, race, environment, war trauma…


New-aesthetics: from contemporary painting to the high-tech


Art and sciences: bio-aesthetics and other forms of trans-disciplinary


The artist and the archive


New global agencies: trans-cultural curatorship and artistic diaspora


Post-colonialism and emerging cultural identities


Expansion of the “global paradigm”: art biennales and international blockbuster exhibitions


Analysis of an emerging issue proposed by the students. Exercise of conceptual tools developed during the course.

Learning Outcome

The student will be able to place contemporary art within a larger social context. The student will be aware of key figures in contemporary art and of their importance within the larger canon.

Student Assessment

Continuous Assessment: 100% (of which at least 15% is participation)

    Continuous assessment components will include:

    • Exercises and projects

    • Individual, group and team-based assignments


    1. Judith Rugg, Michele Sedgwick (Eds), Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance, Intellect, Bristol

    2. Michael Phillipson, Chris Jenks (Ed), Managing ‘Tradition’: The Plight of Aesthetic Practices and their Analysis in a Technoscientific Culture, Visual Culture, Routledge

    3. Okwui Enwezor, Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art, Steidl

    4. Thierry de Duve, Kant after Duchamp, The MIT Press, Massachusetts

    5. Valerio Terraroli, Neo-Avant-Gardes, Postmodern and Global Art 1969-1999


    6. Wilfried Van Damme, Kitty Zijlmans (Eds), World Art Studies: Exploring Concepts and Approaches, Valiz