Arts and Communities syllabus

Below the reading list for the two “Arts and Communities” theory classes I taught for the Master of Arts and Community Practice at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (CCP), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne in 2016. These are not the final version presented to students, which were supplemented by a number of texts from the various participants in the courses. Histories and Sites was also taught before Values and Methods, though pedagogically it should have probably been the other way around. The topics were developed by CCP staff in a collaborative workshop session I facilitated in 2015, though the descriptions represent more my own interests. The bibliography largely represents my own best attempt at an archive, though input also came from CCP staff Lachlan MacDowall, Marnie Badham, James Oliver, Dean Merlino, Jen Rae, Margie Mackay, Amy Spiers, and also Tania Cañas and Léuli Eshraghi who co-taught the Values and Methods class. There are a few missing readings from the PDFs but hopefully both the list and readings are useful. If you have content in the PDFs which you would like not to be online please let me know danny at Please also let me know if this turns out to be useful for you in some way – hoping to continue to build on this archive in a more collaborative fashion. xx

Arts and Communities: Values and Methods Reader – PDF (93MB)

Arts and Communities: Histories and Sites Reader – PDF (58MB) –

CCDP90009 – 2016 Arts and Communities: Values and Methods

Week 1: Liberalism and its Discontents: Structural Inequality and Democracy

The democratic state that dominates Western political thought emerges from the liberal tradition, where each person is assumed to be freely in charge of their own actions, even though the distribution of such freedom is clearly unequal. A number of oppositional traditions have asked, what forces are required to construct an individual? These questions – emerging from marxist, feminist, indigenous and other positions – destabilise our idea of the citizen and open our sense of collectivity to new genres of action.

Required Reading:

Hannah Arendt, “The Perplexities of the Rights of Man,” in The Origins of Totalitarianism (Harvest, 1966), 290-302.

Land, Clare. 2015. Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles. London: Zed Books. Chapter 2: “A political genealogy for contemporary non-Indigenous activism in Australia”

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press. 2014.  Chapter 3

Recommended Reading:

Lauren Berlant, “Claudia Rankine” (Interview). BOMB 129. 2014.

Reckitt, Helena. “Forgotten Relations: Feminist Artists and Relational Aesthetics.” In Politics in a Glass: Case Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions. Edited by Angela Dimitrakaki and Lara Perry. Value: Art: Politics. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, July, 2013.

Kester, Grant H. Conversation Pieces : Community and Communication in Modern Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. Chapter Three “Dialogical Aesthetics”

Week 2: Human Rights and Human Development

The Declaration of the rights of Man and of the Citizen, passed by France’s National Constituent Assembly in August 1789, marks a transition from natural law being managed through the church to a Christian nation-state, whose form became globalised through the processes of European colonisation. The concept of “human rights” remains one of the strongest discourses to be mobilised against oppression, yet this discourse has also been critiqued for its universalism. Similarly, the concept of human development flourished during the peak era of intergovernmentalism in the United Nations (1945- ~1990) but the mechanisms of development have more recently come in for critique as they are circumvented and infiltrated by private capital. How are these discourses still relevant and what work can they do in contemporary communities? As well as thinking of “human rights”, could we also think about “human wrongs”? Can the idea of developing communities co-exist with a self-determination framework?

Required Reading

Amartya Sen. 2005. “Human Rights and Capabilities.” Journal of Human Development 6 (2): 151–66.

Escobar, Arturo. 1992. “Imagining a Post-Development Era? Critical Thought, Development and Social Movements.” Social Text, no. 31/32. 20–56.

Kester, Grant. 2011. The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Art Theory and Criticism. Duke University Press. Chapter Two (excerpt) 116-153

Recommended Reading

Cohen, Jean L. 2008. “Rethinking Human Rights, Democracy, and Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization.” Political Theory, 36(4): 578-606.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 2004. “Righting Wrongs.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 103 (2-3): 523–81.

Week 3: Modernity / Postmodernity

Modernism was a consensus of Western-educated people about the structure of history, identity and core cultural values. In the logic of modernism, history has passed and contemporary activity will depart from that past into a progressive future. Postmodernity  is described from the 1970s as a collapse in that consensus – modernist ideals have not go away, but they can no longer claim to be the only true path – narratives and meta-narratives of history become conflicted.

Required Reading:

Benjamin, Walter. 1968. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations, 217–51. New York: Random House.

Haraway, Donna J. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149–81. New York: Routledge

Kapur, Geeta. 1990. “Contemporary Cultural Practice: Some Polemical Categories.” Third Text 4 (11): 109–18.


Baudrillard, Jean. 1994. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Chapter 1, “The Precession of Simulation.”

Week 4: Critical Approaches to Community

The double bind of community: communities are naturally occurring groups, that evolve with no set plan. Yet communities are identified by those wishing to change those plans, by definition departing from an organic approach to community and toward an intentional one. On what grounds can intentional communities be diagnosed or constructed?

Rimi Khan: “From Consensual to Open-Ended Communities”, in Art in Community: The Provisional Citizen (Palgrave 2015) pp. 14-36

Jackson, Shannon. “Quality Time: Social Practice Debates in Contemporary Art.” Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. London: Routledge, 2011. 54-86.

Joseph, Miranda. “Introduction: Persistent Critique, Relentless Return.” Against the Romance of Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Vii-xxxvi.


Nancy, Jean-Luc. 1991. The Inoperative Community. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press. Chapter One.

Week 5: Qualitative Research, the Ethnographic Eye, and the Politics of Knowledge

The community artist is often sponsored by a state or corporation that has sought knowledge about a community for its own ends. What does it mean to understand a community ethnographically, to visit for a time and inductively form a structure? What is the relationship between those who visit and those who always remain? How do knowledge-making practices travel across such differences?

Required Reading

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “R-Words: Refusing Research.” Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities. Ed. Django Paris and Maisha T. Winn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2013. 223-248.

Rangan, Pooja. 2011. “Immaterial Child Labor: Media Advocacy, Autoethnography, and the Case of Born into Brothels.” Camera Obscura 25 (3 75): 143–77.

Janke, Terri. 2015. “Chapter 7: Avatar Dreaming: Indigenous Cultural Protocols and Making Films Using Indigenous Content.” In Indigenous Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research, edited by Matthew Rimmer, 177–99. Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property Series. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Recommended Reading

Alcoff, Linda. “The Problem of Speaking for Others.” Cultural Critique 20 (1991): 5-3

Week 6: Mythology, Story and Narrative

For the Native American writer Thomas King, “the truth about stories is that is all we are”. Some stories may be legitimated (governmental stories, scientific stories) and some not, but story is the process by which we give meaning to phenomena. Story and myth are often ritualised, told and received as much because of the conditions of their telling (such and such a person was here; at this time of the day we tell stories; we need a story to sell this product; I need to find a way to convey this information) as any actual content. How do we engage different genres of narrative and story, across different institutions?

Required Reading:

King, Thomas. 2003. The truth about stories: A Native narrative. Toronto, ON: Anansi Press.  Chapter 1. [CBC lectures: ].

Cybermohalla Ensemble. “On Writing.” Cybermohalla Hub. Ed. Nikolaus Hirsch and Shveta Sarda. Delhi/ Berlin: Sarai-CSDS/Sternberg Press, 2012. 14-20

Recommended Reading:

Richardson, Laurel, and Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre. “Writing: A Method of Inquiry.” The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. Ed. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln. Thousand Oaks; London; New Delhi: Sage, 2007. 959-978.

Week 7: Art and Health – Readings and materials TBC

Week 8: Nation, Culture and Citizenship

For much of the 20th century, official discourses of culture related to the nation state, and thus to citizenship. However, in greater number since the 1980s, the state is seen as being able to embrace many cultures. What does this mean for citizenship as a mechanism of belonging? What is the relationship between multiculturalism and indigenous culture in settler societies? How does this state conjuncture relate to “private” “cultural” practices such as food, religion, etc?

Required Reading:

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Culture Alive.” Theory, Culture & Society 23. 2-3 (May, 2006): 359-360.

Rickard, Jolene. 2011. “Visualizing Sovereignty in the Time of Biometric Sensors.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 110 (2): 465–86.

Langton, Marcia. 1993. “ Well, I Heard It on the Radio and I Saw It on the Television”: An Essay for the Australian Film Commission on the Politics and Aesthetics of Filmmaking by and about Aboriginal People and Things. Australian Film Commission Sydney.

Recommended Reading:

Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Public Culture 2: 1–24.

Week 9: Ethics

The movement of artistic practices into the academy, and the emergence of claims to self-determination has brought with it an increased focus on ethics in community-engaged practices. Far from artistic interventions being seen as only positive, the ethical paradigm requires artists to consider more dialogical engagements with communities, and to critically assess their own power. Are these dynamics predictable in advance? Do they impose constraints on the value of artistic actions, which usually present their own autonomy? .

Required Reading:

Bolt, Barbara. “Beneficence and contemporary art: when aesthetic judgment meets ethical judgment.” Visual Methodologies,  v. 3, n. 2, p. 53-66, dec. 2015. ISSN 2040-5456. Available at: <>.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. “Ethical Research Protocols” in Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Dunedin: University of Otago Press. 118-122.

Thornley, Jeni. “Island Home Country: Working with Aboriginal Protocols in a Documentary Film About Colonisation and Growing Up White in Tasmania.” in Passionate Histories: Myth, Memory and Indigenous Australia. Ed. Frances Peters-Little, Ann Curthoys, and John Docker. Acton, A.C.T.: ANU E Press, 2010. 247-280.

Recommended Reading:

Danny Butt and Local Time, 2016. “Colonial hospitality: rethinking curatorial and artistic responsibility”, Journal for Artistic Research 10 (2016)

Treloyn, S. & Charles, R. G. (2014). How do you feel about squeezing oranges?: Reflections and lessons on collaboration in ethnomusicological research in an Aboriginal Australian community. In K. Barney, (Ed.), Collaborative ethnomusicology: New approaches to music research between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians. Melbourne, VIC: Lyrebird Press. 169-186.


Week 10: Affect, Aesthetics, Creativity

The term “aesthetic” is commonly used to discuss the “artistic” aspects of form, as opposed to the content. However, for Kant and other philosophers who have influenced our use of the term, the aesthetic is a much deeper force that describes a space where the human senses the free play of concepts in a form not dictated by the tight confines of reason, enabling the possibility of new modes of thinking and social ordering to emerge. In the late 20th century, influenced by psychological researchers such as Tomkins and philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, the concept of “affect” gains traction as a mode of analysis that operates outside the residual logics of philosophical aesthetics and their propositional subject.

Required Reading:

Bourriaud, Nicolas. 1998. Relational Aesthetics. Les Presse Du Reel, France. Chapter Three & 4: “Art of the 1990s” and “Space time exchange factors.” 24-48.

Ahmed, Sara. 2014. “Introduction: Feel Your Way”, from The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York: Routledge. 1-19.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, and Adam Frank. 1995. “Shame in the Cybernetic Fold: Reading Silvan Tomkins.” Critical Inquiry 21 (2). 496–522.

Recommended Reading:

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “1990: L.A., “The Gold Field”,” in Roni Horn. Earths Grow Thick (Columbus: Wexner Center for the Arts Publication, 1996), 68.

Najafi, Sina, David Serlin, and Lauren Berlant. 2014. “The Broken Circuit: An Interview with Lauren Berlant.” Cabinet 31.

Ball, Karyn. 2008. “Primal Revenge and Other Anthropomorphic Projections for Literary History.” New Literary History 39 (3). 533–63.

Week 11: Capital, Economy and the Market – social economies

According to the curator Charles Esche, all cultural funding in the former west can be linked to the Cold War and the desire for governments to demonstrate the cultural superiority of individualist freedom over socialist collectivity, and since 1989 this mandate for cultural support has declined. In the context of neoliberalism, the ability of nations to maintain their cultural and economic sovereignty has become ruptured, as global finance capital permeates territorial borders, while reinforcing different kinds of divides between firms, individuals and nation states. How are arts practitioners responding to these new flows of capital? What role to divestment and boycott campaigns have in contemporary cultural politics? How does the artist survive in a financialised community while avoiding exploitation and being exploited?

Required Reading:

Bourdieu, Pierre. (1986) The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (New York, Greenwood), 241-258.

Hopkins, Candice. “The Golden Potlatch
: Study in Mimesis and Capitalist Desire.” Fillip 13

Purves, Ted., and S. A. Selzer. 2014. What We Want Is Free, Second Edition: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art. State University of New York Press. (Chs 1 & 2)

Recommended Reading:

Colapinto, John. “The Real-Estate Artist.” [Theaster Gates] The New Yorker  January 29, 2015. <>

Week 12: Governance, Bureaucracy, Evaluation

Required Reading:

Gressel, Katherine. “Public Art and the Challenge of Evaluation.” Createquity. January 7, 2012. Web. <>.

Belfiore, Eleonora, and Oliver Bennett. “Beyond the “Toolkit Approach”: Arts Impact Evaluation Research and the Realities of Cultural Policy‐Making.” Journal for Cultural Research 14.2 (March 24, 2010): 121-142.

Hope, Sophie. “Cultural measurement on whose terms? Critical friends as an experiment in participant-led evaluation.” In Making Culture Count, pp. 282-297. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2015.

Norris, Niles. “The Politics of Evaluation and the Methodological Imagination.” American Journal of Evaluation 26.4 (December 1, 2005): 584-586.


CCDP90007 – 2016 Arts and Communities: Histories and Sites

Week 1: Arrival and welcome

Recommended Reading:

Birch, Tony “Nothing has changed: The Making and Unmaking of Koori Culture”,  in Grossman, Michèle. Blacklines : Contemporary Critical Writing by Indigenous Australians (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2003), 97-103.

Edmonds, Fran, Lee Darroch, Maree Clarke, and Vicki Couzens. “Ancestral Memory Out of the Shadows.” Artlink 32.2 (2012): 56-61.

Anonymous. “The Art of the Question: Thinking Like a Public Artist.” The Practice of Public Art, eds. Cameron Cartiere and Shelly Willis. (New York: Routledge, 2008), 219-230.

Week 2: Community art and social practice: navigating sites of power and representation

In recent years, the liveliness of debate over socially-engaged art has less to do with the aesthetics and ethics of practice itself and more to do with the terms of criticism and policy to define it. Employing a range of social strategies to amplify broader political concerns, the field is distinguished by its artistic sensibility while encompassing a range of creative collaborations between artists and communities of both place and interest. Histories stem from a number of competing artistic and institutional motivations rooted in the geopolitical. For instance, American narratives stem from identity politics of the Harlem Renaissance, Second Wave Feminism, postwar New Deal with a focus on regionalism and the artistic practices of the Situationists, Fluxus and social sculpture.  Australian histories, meanwhile, are usually associated with the community arts movement that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s of workers theatre and children’s festivals, indigenous self determination, disability arts, the multicultural agenda alongside cultural development in local neighbourhoods.

Required Reading:

Danielle Wyatt, Marnie Badham, and Lachlan MacDowall (2015) “Vexing History: The Problem of Telling the Story of Community Arts in Australia” draft discussion paper

Gay Hawkins, From Nimbin to Mardi Gras: Constructing Community Arts (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993). Chapters 1 & 2, Chapter 6.

Lind, Maria. “Complications; On Collaboration, Agency and Contemporary Art.” Public: New Communities 39 (2009): 53-73.

Recommended Reading:

Lacy, Suzanne. “Debated Territory: Toward a Critical Language for Public Art.” Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art. Ed. Suzanne Lacy. (Seattle, WA: Bay Press, 1995), 171-185.

Jackson, Shannon. “Quality Time: Social Practice Debates in Contemporary Art.” Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. (London: Routledge. 2011), 54-86.

Week 3 – Histories of Help: Charity, settlement and missionary aesthetics

The 19th century settlement movement was an important precursor to the idea of community development in the British Empire. Shifting the model of charity from a distance, organisations like Toynbee Hall in the UK and Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago advocated for middle-class reformers to actually participate in the lives of migrants and the poor. Influenced by the ideas of culture as a civilising force espoused by Matthew Arnold, these activists played important roles in welfare reform and working class participation in democratic culture in the late 19th century, while sometimes maintaining paternalistic attitudes, dynamics of power that still circulate in art and community today.

Required Reading:

Jane Addams. “The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements” (1892)

Diana Maltz, “Missionary Aestheticism as Emancipatory Aesthetics?” in British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870–1900.  (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006),  206-217

Tania Cañas, “10 Things You Need To Consider If You Are An Artist – Not Of The Refugee And Asylum Seeker Community – Looking To Work With Our Community.”

Recommended Reading:

Grant Kester, “Aesthetic Evangelists: Conversion and Empowerment in Contemporary Art,” Afterimage 22:6 (January 1995), 5–11

Heather E. McLean,  “Cracks in the Creative City: The Contradictions of Community Arts Practice.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38.6 (October 16, 2014): 2156-2173.

Week 4: Community as event: performance, action, happening

The technological developments of the industrial revolution reconfigured European communities through the abstraction of labour-power, loosening traditional values and establishing new systems of domination and affiliation, including the circulation of cultural goods. Some artists came to question the social values associated with art, seeing potential liberation to emerge from aesthetic experiences that focussed on the social effect of art rather than the object. Meanwhile, theatre developed a concern with the formal mechanics of the stage and the alienating effects of representation, to be either broken (Artaud) or ironically heightened (Brecht). These critical gestures open the dialectic of transgression characteristic of contemporary art, where non-art gestures in a community come to be understood within artistic frameworks, and art’s rituals bring affective significance to a secular society.

Required Reading:

Boal, Augusto. “A Theoretical Foundation.” The Aesthetics of the Oppressed. Trans. Adrian Jackson. (London; New York: Routledge, 2006). 11-43.

Recommended Reading:

Sell, Mike (1998) “The Avant-Garde of Absorption: Happenings, Fluxus, and the Performance Economies of the American Sixties”, Rethinking Marxism, 10.2 (1998): 1-26

Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso 2012. Chapter Two: “The Historic Avant Garde”

Week 5: The Art of Politics

Unions played a key role in the development of infrastructure for health, education and culture outside of the upper classes. In the 20th century, through strike and petition, social reformers called upon the social democratic nation-state to adopt responsibility for this infrastructure, including the management of culture and cultural development. During the neoliberal era, corporatisation has produced new, internationalised flows of power and resistance, with renewed attention to the political force of the artistic activity.

Required Reading:

Ellen Feiss, “What is Useful? The paradox of rights in Tania Bruguera’s ‘Useful Art’”

Kelly, Owen. (1984). Community, Art, and the State: storming the citadels. London; New York, Comedia Publishing Group in association with Marion Boyars. Excerpts TBC.

Recommended Reading:

Gregory Sholette, excerpt from Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture, London: Pluto Press, 2011.

Mouffe, Chantal. “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces.” Art & Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods 1 .2 (2007)

Patricia C. Phillips,  “Creating Democracy: A Dialogue with Krzysztof Wodiczko.” Art Journal 62.4 (Winter 2003): 32-47.

Wallis, Brian, ed. Democracy: A Project by Group Material. Bay Press/Dia Art Foundation, 1990.

Week 6: Globality and Locality

The double bind of non-indigenous community is that the term “community” is by definition is imposed from elsewhere, bringing with it assumptions about the need for local change. Therefore, changes in the local cultural environment imply changes in the world, and vice-versa. In the West, the era of cultural nationalism has viewed internationalism through the labour movement and intergovernmental agencies such as UNESCO. Moving into the neoliberal era, new configurations of global movements are becoming palpable, enabled by new globe-girding technologies and discourses of decolonisation.

Required Reading:

Cuauhtémoc Medina, “Contemp(t)orary: Eleven Theses”, e-flux journal #12.

Lucy Lippard, The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society (New York: The New Press, 1997). excerpts.

Recommended Reading:

Butt, Danny. “Local Knowledge: Place and New Media Practice.” Leonardo, 39.4 (August 2006): 323-326.

Week 7: Racism, rights, and community (19th April)

Through the 20th century the Western concept of culture came to be seen as no longer a tool of benevolence, but a powerful disciplining force that relied on the exclusion of non-white practitioners. Influenced by broader dialogues of decolonisation and resistance, the Black Arts and Multicultural arts movements posited cultural autonomy as something belonging to communities against the colonial state rather than being developed by the state.

Required Reading:

Paul Gilroy “Art of darkness: Black art and the problem of belonging to England”, Third Text, 4.10 (1990): 45-52.

Audre Lorde – “Poetry is not a luxury” (1977) In Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings, Shaw, Susan M. and Janet Lee eds. 371-373.

Interview with Robin DiAngelo, “Why White People Freak Out When They’re Called Out About Race” <>

Recommended Reading:

Walter Mignolo et. al, Decolonial Aesthetics <>

Week 8: Biopower: Art and institutional bodies

Michel Foucault saw an emergent politics in institutionalised technologies of human management: prison and clinic. These sites have also been sites of intervention by artists. How are bodies regulated, how does art ameliorate, support or challenge such regulation?

Required Reading:

Cheliotis, Leonidas “Decorative justice: deconstructing the relationship between the arts and imprisonment.” International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3.1: (2014): 16-34.

Week 9: Engendering community: feminist histories

Feminist movements attempted to displace the patriarchal ordering of society as public-political-male vs the private-ethical-female; and many saw in art a powerful vehicle to transform the personal into the political. This also made these movements a vibrant ground for debates on the limits of subjective affinity and white dominance. The uneasy conjuncture between intimate practices and political goals structures community-based movements toward inclusive gender and sexuality today.

Required Reading:

Martha Rosler, “Feminist Art in California,” Artforum, September 1977.

Vivien Green Fryd, “Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May: Feminist Activist Performance Art as ‘Expanded Public Pedagogy’” NWSA Journal 19.1, Spring (2007) 23-38

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969 – Proposal for an exhibition “CARE”

Recommended Reading:

Sykes, Roberta. “Bobbi Sykes,” in Women who do and women who don’t join the women’s movement, ed. Robyn Rowland, (Melbourne: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 63-9. (Also, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, same volume)

Lauren Berlant and Elizabeth Freeman, “Queer Nationality”  boundary 2, 19.1, (Spring, 1992), pp. 149-180

Week 10: The right to the city

Urbanisation is one of the dominant forces in society. In the west, artistic practices are almost always seen as emerging in an urban metropolis, given the task of humanising the abstract forces of capital-intensive infrastructure, and through gentrification contributing to its reformatting of human life. How has the city changed, what kinds of community have changed with it, and what is the role of the artist in reimagining the city?

Required Reading:

Tom Finklepearl. “Introduction: The City as Site.” Dialogues in Public Art. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001.

Josephine Berry, “Everyone is Not an Artist: Autonomous Art meets the Neoliberal City”

Recommended Reading:

Ivan Chtcheglov “Formulary for a New Urbanism” (1953)

Week 11: Environment and ecology

On the flipside of the conflation of the creative and the urban, a Romantic tradition has seen in nature the essence of beauty that could inform the production of art. Community arts has often worked to evade this dynamic, by seeking artistic outcomes in regional and rural environments that do not necessarily point back to the urban centre, or that engage environments for their intrinsic processes rather than simply as picturesque locations to be documented for an urban viewer. How have community-engaged arts tracked the discourses of the environmental movements?

Week 12: The Community and The Gallery: Critical Social Practices

In the 19th century it was assumed that art galleries could improve communities’ taste, and there were advocacy movements to make them open on Sundays when working class people could visit. Policies in the 1980s focused on a democratisation of the arts and to provide access to those experienced social or financial barriers to participating in the cultural life of their community; however, many of these policies overlooked how institutions maintain these cultural hierarchies. Today, the gallery is understood as both an economic sector and site of politics, and artistic attempts to bring other communities into the gallery are more likely to be understood as a critique.

Required Reading:

There is No Now Now reader. 2014. [Letters from Biennale of Sydney 19 Artists Working Group] January 29, 2014. <>. Chapter One.

Fraser, Andrea. “A Museum Is Not a Business. It Is Run in a Businesslike Fashion”.” Art and Its Institutions: Current Conflicts, Critique and Collaborations, ed. Nina Möntmann. (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2006), 86-98

Recommended Reading:

Marina Vishmidt – “Mimesis of the Hardened and Alienated”: Social Practice as Business Model – e-flux 43 (2013)

Stimson, B. “What Was Institutional Critique?” In Institutional Critique: An anthology of artists’ writings. A. Alberro & B. Stimson. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 20-42

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