Time to Act: Cultural Interventions and Artivism
Full course description
This course provides students with the skills to self-reflexively put their critical understanding of art and literary interventions into practice. To that end, the course is focused on a group project in collaboration with societal partners. Structured in the format of a portfolio, this project mobilizes research, analysis, and communication to (co-)design, (co-)facilitate, and/or comment on a cultural intervention regarding an issue of social justice. This can be in the format of a creative workshop, a podcast, a video, an exhibition, a handbook, a toolkit, a reading group, a social media campaign, et cetera. To prepare for the project, students will explore concepts and case studies that address how literary and artistic practices activate new socio-political imaginaries, and how they transform contemporary modes of struggle for social justice. Students will elaborate on concepts such as artivism (art activism), emotion work, counterpublics, postcritique, queer and decolonial performance, prefiguration, and radical care, among others. Case studies change from year to year, depending on topical issues. Examples range from the adaptation of science-fiction theory in anti-racist organizing, to participatory arts in residential dementia care, from environmental artivism to the anti-colonial appropriation of urban monuments, from anti-capitalist interventions to punk-feminist craftivism, et cetera. Drawing on these studies and on their liaison with societal partners, students will – in the second half of this course – finalize their group projects, and critically reflect on this process via an individually written commentary. The course prepares students for their future work and public engagement in the social and creative sectors, organizing and campaigning, as well as public outreach, journalism, and critique.
Upon completion of this course, students are able to:
understand and distinguish between current interdisciplinary theories and concepts of cultural intervention and artivism;
apply concepts and theories of cultural intervention and artivism to (self-)selected artistic and literary case studies;
select and integrate qualitative and empirical research methods in a collaborative and goal-oriented manner;
identify and take part in topical academic and societal debates on strategies and best practices in art and literary interventions/activism;
develop an informed and critical perspective on contemporary examples of artistic and literary interventions/activism;
translate their informed understanding of artistic and literary interventions into a research- and creativity-led intervention in relation to contemporary issues of social justice;
critically reflect on their own cultural intervention and that of others, including questions of agency, inclusiveness and positionality vis-à-vis different local and global contexts, publics, and scales.
Shiner, L. (2001) The invention of art: A cultural history. The University of Chicago Press.
Serafini, P. (2018). Performance action: The politics of art activism. Routledge.
Staal, J. (2019). Propaganda art in the 21st century. The MIT Press.
Garrido Castellano, C. (2021). Art activism for an anticolonial future. SUNY Press.