This seminar focuses on contemporary arts in Asia and Africa. The course will examine contemporary visual practices in these regions, considering both continuing historical as well as ground-breaking art forms. The course will encounter artists who are responding to their contemporary environment in a variety of innovative ways; we will explore how those artistic developments correspond with the social, political, religious and economic trends and events in their respective regions as well as in a broader global context. Discussion in the course will revolve around scholarly journal readings and videos about these artists and trends. Students will write research papers about an artist or artistic trend of their choice in the region and then summarize their research for the entire class.
Field WorkCountry: Vietnam
Date: February 11, 2017
While we are in Ho Chi Minh City, we will meet contemporary Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê, who will show us around his studio and meet with us to discuss what it means to be an artist in Vietnam today. Dinh’s work crosses boundaries between fine art and applied art, and brings a strong Vietnamese perspective to issues revolving around war, in particular the Vietnam War, and other expressions of hegemonic power.
Your paper for this field class will be a reflection on how Dinh uses his work as a medium for political and social change, and how his methods are similar to and different from other tools for change with which you are familiar from other facets of your life, either from historical study or personal experience (5pp/approximately 1000 words).
As you visit other ports, there is an expectation that you will consider the practice of contemporary art in those locations: how does art relate to its contemporary setting or not? Is it being used as a tool for social and political change? This contemplation—and visual record-keeping—will inform your final comparative essay for the class.
1. Learn about the combination of artistic techniques Dinh and his team employ to create his work.
2. Learn about the particular representations expressed in Dinh’s work.
3. Study art as a social and political expression.