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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Curating Contemporary Art: Histories, Theories and Practice (HIAR10156)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course addresses the rise of the curator as a creative figure from the late 1960s to the present day. It offers Year 4 students an opportunity to consider the histories and theories of contemporary art from an alternative perspective that focuses on the contexts of production, mediation and display. Topics examined include curatorial labour and agency, artists' appropriation of curatorial strategies, attention economies, biennial culture and the hegemony of the group exhibition, experimental institutions, curating 'immaterial' practice (discursive and non-object-based art) as well as the specific issues pertaining to collections of contemporary art. Site visits and discussion with professionals will form a core part of the syllabus.
Course description This course examines the shifting role and status of the curator in the field of contemporary art. It also engages with broader questions of how art is mediated to its publics globally and locally. The twenty-first century has seen the critical weight afforded to curatorial processes dramatically increase, disrupting received hierarchies along the way. Curatorial practice is now said to converge with artistic practice, while, at the same time, the curator has emerged as a dominant figure in the construction of new narratives that frame our understanding of what art is and what it can do. Interrogating this trajectory, the course addresses both the potential and limitations of historical and emergent curatorial paradigms in relation to art.

Beginning with an analysis of the socio-economic conditions under which the curator has risen to prominence, the course will be organised around a series of case studies through which we will unpack specific topics and engage with other pertinent histories. Seminar discussions will examine a range of approaches and geographical perspectives, from the phenomenon of the itinerant superstar curator through to practices not necessarily sanctioned, or indeed visible, through the traditional art institution. Recurring questions will focus attention on the reconfiguration of notions of agency in the art world, the value of exhibition histories to the discipline of art history and experimental curatorial efforts to re-imagine the institution of art as well as to operate beyond its walls. Site visits will anchor discussions, enabling you to engage with the practicalities of curatorship today.

Curators and artists whose work may be encompassed by the course include: Lawrence Alloway, Maria Eichhorn, Okwui Enwezor, Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia, Mary Jane Jacobs, Maria Lind, Lucy Lippard, Tone Olaf Nielsen, Martha Rosler and Harald Szeemann.

The seminar format will encourage your active participation. Teaching will be delivered through short lectures, class discussion led by the course organiser, group work and informal student presentations. You will be expected to prepare for each seminar by reading key set texts and undertaking independent research on specific exhibitions, curatorial projects or artworks as directed. Site visits and screenings will be built into the seminars as appropriate.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is not open to exchange and visiting students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  21
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 50% 1 essay of 2500 words
50% 24 hour online examination paper
All learning outcomes are assessed equally across both pieces of assessment.
Feedback Formative assessment will focus on an essay plan due for submission in Week 5. Students will receive written feedback from the course organiser.

Summative assessment will be in the form of a 2500-word essay and a 24 hour online exam to be taken in the exam period after the end of the semester. Written summative feedback on student essays will be provided.

There will also be a preparative exam workshop.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of curatorial practice since the 1960s.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of, and debate, contemporary art theory.
  3. Reflect critically on the key case studies and themes examined during the course and extrapolate on their relevance to the fields of contemporary art and culture more broadly.
  4. Demonstrate skills in visual and theoretical analysis in relation to exhibition-making and other forms of curatorial practice.
Reading List
Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, translated by Gregory Elliott (London: Verso, 2007)

Joshua Decter and Helmut Draxler, Exhibition as Social Intervention: 'Culture in Action' 1993 (London: Afterall, 2014)

Angela Dimitrakaki and Lara Perry, eds, Politics in a Glass Case: Exhibiting Feminist and Women's Art (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013)

Vivien Golding and Wayne Modest, eds, Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections and Collaboration (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Paul O'Neill, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture (Cambridge MA; London: The MIT Press, 2012)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis;
Independent research (locate, access and interpret information);
Presentation and communication skills;
Group work;
Organisation and planning (the ability to plan workloads and meet deadlines).
KeywordsCurating,Contemporary Art,Exhibition Histories
Course organiserDr Kirsten Lloyd
Tel: (0131 6)51 5799
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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