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Field Trip: Between nostalgia and forgetting, the global exhibition industry






100% coursework






Elective Course

Biennials, triennials, manifestas, documentas, and art fairs. Today’s largescale exhibitions evince a global reality, one in which an international cadre of artworks and financial resources flow from city to city and country to country. These exhibitions are cyclical, aesthetic-political phenomena negotiating pressures to be both locally relevant and globally legible. Critic-theorist-philosopher Boris Groys articulates the cadenced rhythm of the gaps between events as reflecting “accurately enough the time span between nostalgia and forgetting.” Contemporary art operates as signifier of cultural prestige for the nouveau riche while big exhibitions are designed for the mass of anonymous visitors. How has the division of labor between artist (producer) and curator (exhibiter) shifted in an era of late-capitalism and amidst the rise of international contemporary arts tourism? How do exhibition spaces negotiate the classed tensions between neutral and politicized space, and public and private property? This course explores the global art market through a study of its key sites, both historically and today. We will explore local events in Hong Kong such as Art Basel, auction previews, and gallery and museum exhibitions (M+, Para Site). And we will travel internationally on a one- to two-week field trip (either during reading week, January, or June) to an art event such as the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial (New York City), the New Museum Triennial (New York City), the Bangkok Art Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, documenta (Kassel, Germany), Manifesta (nomadic), or elsewhere. If travel is interrupted, the class will explore exhibitions virtually.


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