Contemporary Artist as Researcher and Activist

cornelia edge of englandThe student will be introduced to a contemporary stream of visual culture that places nature, ethos, competing ideologies, and our relationship to these within the context of emergent forms of art activism.

In response to environmental and social crisis, theory and praxis figure significantly in the work of artists and artist collectives from around the globe whose practice manifests as socially engaged art (SEA) defined by Pablo Helguera; data/information reimagined as by Mona Hatoum and Trevor Paglen; or examinations of reconciliation and mass trauma in the work of Doris Salcedo and Kara Walker. In some cases, artworks engage with nature/culture by their placement in site-specific locations, through new modes of picturing, and/or through the appropriation of hypothetical scientific musings or emerging technologies (e.g., Ed Atkins, fictionalized genetic hybridization and subversion of surveillance tools).

Many of the artists we examine make use of new tools designed for industrial purpose, medical, agricultural, or scientific research. Others further participatory dialogues within anti-racist, de-colonizing, and queer-centered discursive practices. This work is inherently transdisciplinary and human ecological in disposition and character. Many of these producer-artists appropriate the role of “researcher” in order to bring attention to ecologies that human beings have disrupted or will disrupt. Doris Salcedo, Tacita Dean, Kara Walker, Mark Dion, Shirin Neshat, Ai Weiwei, Andra Ursuta, Karim Ben Khelifa, Raven Chacon, Frances Alys, Natalie Jeremijenko, Guillermo Galindo, among others, will be considered.

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