Decolonizing Art Methods (FV4327.01)

Jen Liu

In the last few years, decolonizing contemporary art has been a rallying cry, as a means of criticizing the cultural perspectives that established institutions promote, and which ones they put on mute. In this course we will unpack what this has meant for artists, looking at artistic bodies of work, institutional case studies, and readings to shape an ongoing conversation as well as inform one (art-centered, semester-long) project of each student’s devising.

While “decolonization” can be an extremely broad term, the themes that will drive this course are: questioning the source and distribution of artistic materials and methods, unlearning established art histories and methods of valuation, exploring a (selective) history of postcolonial and decolonial cultural tactics, including how artists have engaged with protest content in complex ways. We will center artistic practices that take social critique as method, designed as counter-narratives to histories of exploitation and/or erasure, the result of long histories of settler colonialism.

We will look broadly throughout the 20th and 21st century, with visual artists and collectives such as David Hammonds, Trinh T. Minh Ha, Cameron Rowland, New Red Order, ruangruppa, Gulf Labor, and The School for Poetic Computation. We will compare and contrast methods of artistic resistance from within the US and globally, with an emphasis on expanded artistic materials (dirt, discards, lies, pirate archiving) and arrangements (installation, collaboration-curatorial, hybrid virtuality). And finally, since “decolonization is not a metaphor” (Tuck + Yang) – we will always be careful to contextualize these artistic practices within specific histories, capital (economic and cultural) exchanges, people and communities.

Learning Outcomes:
In this term, students will:

- Gain knowledge of areas of lesser known art and cultural histories, with an emphasis on global minoritarian practices.
- Engage with historical cultural content about decolonization, in a variety of mediums.
- Develop methods for considering the relation between form and content in material and arrangement.
- Learn about the ways artists and thinkers have considered political protest in and through creative methods.
- Develop methods for considering the relation between global economic exchange and how studio practices are shaped and sustained.
- Develop their own work through individual meetings with the instructor and presentation to the group.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Registration by permission of instructor (contact:
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 12
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Film and Video , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , New Courses , Updates