Introduction (VFSPOL)

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Workshop with Prof. Dave Beech and Prof. Mick Wilson at Bard College campus Berlin, students from art & politics course, from Bard CCS, and from De Appel Curatorial Programme2018. Photo: Kjell Caminha

2021 Introduction Summer Course

The Introduction to Contemporary Arts and Politics (15ECTS) (Code: VFSPOL) course at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg is a summer course based on a combination of online presentations and seminars, together with face-to-face intensive workshops that take place in different cities each year between early June and late August. (Note that in 2021 because of covid19 pandemic disruptions, the in person face-to-face meetings will mot take place. Online intensives will be organized instead.)

This international course, delivered in English, introduces key political themes in relation to contemporary art practices, theories and institutions. It is informed by ongoing research and operates as a summer-long collaborative enquiry.

More about the course content

Topics covered in the course include competing accounts of the political/politics; different readings of the emergence of the aesthetic within colonial-modernity; the nature of exhibition; the geopolitics of the art world's globalism(s); figures of noso-, bio-, thanato-, and necro- politics; feminism and the question of eurocentrism; ecological practices and climate change responses; the political imaginary; the shift from institutional critique to infrastructural activism; the tensions between 'politics of representation' and 'post-representational' thinking; the question of the subject; modes of collectivity; and many other key themes.

The course offers an introduction to a wide range of materials and practices. It is driven by a research agenda, rather than a resolved position. The course attempts to recast the question "what are the relationships between art and politics?" into an enquiry about how the two terms, taken in conjunction, may enable an interrogation of how they each are enacted as fundamentally contested categories.

A key issue considered is the variety of ways in which a separation and distinction between "art" and "politics" has been historically produced.  The presumption of the "and" that bridges between the two terms, also marks a division which it is necessary to interrogate. Early in the course there is a basic consideration of the different ways in which the domain of the enquiry is constructed.

Acknowledging the complex field of theoretical, critical and activist positions that operate in the interaction/conjunction of practices of art and practices of the political, the course takes a partial survey approach, and does not claim to be comprehensive, but does seek to achieve breadth. The course interrogates the different claims for contemporary art's political agency and political saliency, rather than accepting these at face value.

Workshop Intensive 22-24 June 2021

Together with Vector Studio and "George Enescu" National University of the Arts in Iasi, Romania the first workshop intensive will be entitled: "The political condition of the young cultural proletariat."

It will focus on political concerns and imaginaries of the current young cultural proletariat confronted with generational issues of social inequality, instrumentalised education, precarious employment, economic migration, climate change, and pandemic urgencies. What is at stake in the analyses of indebtedness, precarity, migrancy and ascribing the proletarian position to young cultural workers?


2021 Course Team

This year the teaching team comprises  Viviana Chechia, Catalin Gheorghe, Cathryn Klasto, Daniel Jewesbury, Mick Wilson, and guests.



Review on last day of Berlin workshop, 2018. Photo: Kjell Caminha.

Course Schedule 2021

There are 16 online lectures and seminars and 2 workshop intensives. Times are CET (Swedish time).

Tu 8 June 16:00-17:30
W 9 June 16:00-18:00

M 14 June 16:00-18:00
Tu 15 June 16:00-18:00
W 16 June 16:00-18:00

Tu 22 June all day-Iasi intensive - times to be confirmed
W 23 June all day-Iasi intensive - times to be confirmed
Th 24 June all day-Iasi intensive - times to be confirmed

M 28 June 16:00-18:30
Tu 29 June 16:00-18:30
W 30 June 16:00-18:30

M 19 July 16:00-18:00
Tu 20 July 16:00-18:00
W 21 July 16:00-18:00

W 11 August 16:00-18:00
Th 12 August 16:00-18:00
F 13 August 16:00-18:00

W 18 August all day-Gburg intensive - times to be confirmed
Th 19 August all day-Gburg intensive - times to be confirmed
F 20 August all day-Gburg intensive - times to be confirmed

W 25 August 16:00-18:00
Th 26 August 16:00-18:00

Previous iterations of the course

Participants are normally expected to actively engage online, and to attend at least one intensive workshop, typically from a choice of three in three different cities each summer - however, in 2021 this has been waived because of covid19 disruptions. In 2020 the cities nominated are BucharestLinks to an external site. (June) Dublin (August) and Gothenburg (August). In 2019 the cities nominated were Stockholm (June) Venice (July) and Gothenburg (August). In 2018 the cities nominated were Berlin (June) London (June) and Gothenburg (August). We collaborate with different partners in each city to develop an interesting and challenging programme of activities at each intensive. 

In previous years speakers at collaborative events have included: Paul O'Neill (2020), Anselm Franke (2020), Steven Henry Madoff (2020), QAYYEM (2020), Haseeb Ahmed (2019), Georgina Jackson (2019), Kathrin Böhm (London, 2018), Prem Krishnamurthy & Emily Smith (Berlin, 2018), Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Berlin, 2018), and Paul B. Preciado (Berlin, 2018).

The teaching team has comprised at different times: Prof. Dave Beech,  Jason E. Bowman,  Kjell Caminha, Daniel Jewesbury, Prof. Andrea Phillips, Fredrik Svensk, Sarah Tuck,  Arne Kjell Vikhagen and Prof. Mick Wilson.

Application period is February 19 to March 16 2021. Application via www.universityadmissions.seLinks to an external site.  (for international applicants) and via www.antagning.seLinks to an external site. (for Swedish applicants).

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