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Topics & Methods in Contemporary Art - HOA00095M

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Ana Bilbao Yarto
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module focusses on installation, participatory and socially engaged artistic practices as key components of the development of contemporary art.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

Through a variety of positions and case studies, we will discuss the way contemporary artistic practices have experimented with a large range of media, methods of production, dissemination, and engagement. We will also map the distinctive historical and conceptual trajectories of recent artistic production and study a wide range of artists, projects, and institutional ruptures through the lens of decoloniality, forensics and ecology. Students will have the opportunity to analyse key moments where contemporary artistic practices have challenged and reconfigured our very understanding of art.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • the conditions that paved the wave for the emergence of contemporary art;
  • the distinction between modern, postmodern, contemporary, and new media art;
  • the work of a wide variety of artists, the production of various seminal exhibitions and events in the period, including their reception and social impacts;
  • the role of decoloniality, forensics and ecology in forming the practices of contemporary artists.

By the end of this module students should have acquired:

  • an understanding of key terms and contemporary debates
  • critical thinking through the close analysis of relevant texts
  • an ability to articulate ideas clearly through class discussions
  • public speaking skills through in-class presentations
  • essay writing skills through an essay writing workshop, the submission of an essay plan, and detailed feedback on the final submission
  • research skills through the investigation of specific case studies, in-class presentations, and final submission
  • visual analysis through image-led discussions.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
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

  • Arthur Danto, “Introduction: Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary”, in After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998, pp. 3-19.
  • Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, “Decolonial options and artistic/aestheSic entaglements: An Interview with Walter Mignolo”, Decolonisation: Indigeneity, Education and Society, vol.3, no.1, 2014, pp. 196-212.
  • Heather Davis, “Art and Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment and the Sixth Extinction”, Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (ed. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin), London: Open Humanities Press, 2015.
  • Claire Bishop, Installation Art: A Critical History, (London: Tate, 2005), 7-11,14-26, 37-44, 84-94.
  • Miwon Kwon, “One Place After Another: Notes on Site-specificity,” October 80 (Spring, 1997): 85-110.
  • Andrea Fraser, “From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique”, Artforum 44.1 (September 2005): 278-283.
  • Simon Sheikh, “Notes on Institutional Critique”, in Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray, eds., Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing Institutional Critique (London: May Fly, 2009), p. 29-32.
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les Presses du reel, 2002), 11-40.
  • Claire Bishop, “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics”, October 110 (Fall 2004): 51-79.
  • Claire Bishop, “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents”, Arftorum 44.6 (February 2006): 178-183.
  • Grant Kester, “Another Turn” (Letter to Editor), Artforum 44 (May, 2016): 22-24.
  • TJ Demos, “Gentrification After Institutional Critique: On Renzo Martens’s Institute for Human Activities”, Afterall 40 (Autumn/Winter, 2015): 76-89.

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.