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Art and Politics: Global Conceptualisms - HOA00093I

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Lucy Whelan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module investigates dematerialised practices from East- and Southeast Asia and Latin America, including political performance, participatory art, relational art, land art, or anti-art.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

This module will explore the diverse histories of conceptualism that arose in the context of the geopolitical concerns triggered by the Cold War. The emergence of military regimes in the so-called Global South framed the eruption of artistic practices that were highly localised on the one hand, and that entered into dialogue with their European or North American counterparts on the other (some of which will be studied in this module). With a focus on dematerialised practices from East- and Southeast Asia and Latin America, including political performance, participatory art, relational art, land art, or anti-art, our aim is to gain an overview of a variety of narratives and accounts of conceptual art. We will consider works of art that challenge the border of art and non-art, with an emphasis on subversive practices intended to critique social and artistic infrastructures.

The module will develop a greater understanding of global conceptualism during the Cold War period by introducing students to performance, participatory, video, and land art and to the comparative study of conceptualism across the Americas, Asia and Europe. It will expose students to debates in past and recent literature about the interpretation of art and exhibitions in their global socio-political context and raise students' awareness of different methods for analysing works of art.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, the student should have the following:

  • a greater appreciation and richer understanding of art and politics in the 20th Century;

  • insight into different methods of art-historical investigation that have been used to analyse conceptual art in a global context;

  • some experience in textual analysis relevant to artworks and theoretical debates from this period;

  • an ability to demonstrate all these competencies through essays, a presentation, and class debates.


Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on assessed work within the timeframes set out by the University - please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

The purpose of feedback is to help you to improve your future work. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further, you are warmly encouraged to meet your Supervisor during their Office Hours.

Indicative reading

  • Bryan-Wilson Julia. "Against the Body: Interpreting Ana Mendieta." In Ana Mendieta: Traces. Edited by Stephanie Rosenthal, 26-38. London: Hayward Publishing, 2013.
  • Camnitzer, Luis. "Tucumán Arde." In Conceptualism in Latin American Art: Didactics of Liberation, 60-72. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007.
  • Curley, John J. “The Cold War as a Way of Seeing.” In Global Art and the Cold War, 7-18. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2018.
  • Jackson, Shannon. "High Maintenance: The Sanitation Aesthetics of Mierle Laderman Ukeles." In Performing Art: Supporting Publics, 75-103. London: Routledge, 2011.
  • Lenzi, Lola, ed. "Conceptual Strategies in Southeast Asian Art: A Local Narrative." In Concept Context Contestation: Art and the Collective in Southeast Asia, 10-23. Bangkok: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Foundation, 2014.
  • López, Miguel A. "How do We Know What Latin American Conceptualism Looks Like?” Afterall 48 (Autumn/Winter 2019): 52-67.
  • Nelson, Roger. "’Performance is Contemporary’: Performance and its Documentation in Visual Art in Cambodia.” Journal of Khmer Studies 12 (2015): 96-143.
  • Ramírez, Mari Carmen. "Blue Print Circuits: Conceptual Art and Politics in Latin America." In Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century Exhibition Catalogue. Edited by Aldo Rasmussem, 156-167. New York: MOMA, 1993.
  • Sell, Mike. "The Avant-Garde of Absorption: Happenings, Fluxus and the Performance Economies of the American Sixties." Rethinking Marxism 10, no. 2 (1998): 1-26.
  • Tomii, Reiko. "Geijutsu On Their Minds: Memorable Words on Anti-Art." In Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970. Edited by Charles Merewether and Rika Iezumi Hiro, 35-58. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2007.
  • Ukeles, Mierle Laderman. "Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!: Proposal for an exhibition 'CARE.'” Queens Museum.1969.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.