Graduate Seminar ::: Place

Instructor:   Nance Davies          

nance_davies@comcast.net   :::   ndavies@massart.edu
‘We are in an epoch of simultaneity:  we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far,
of the side-by-side, of the dispersed’.     Michael Foucault

 

Course Description

This seminar seeks to encourage dialogue between art and notions of ‘place’.  We begin with the concept that ‘places’ are generally considered the context in which our lives happen. Place is contingent and in a constant state of flux.  We make it – we unmake it. Our identities shape and become shaped by place.  We experience place in our bodies, in our minds, in the intimacy of our homes, in architecture and in a diversity of public and private land spaces. Globalization gives rise to collective psychic spaces – both thrilling and terrifying –  related to accelerated culture, commerce, and politics.  Place and time relationships are often out of sync. Some of our lives have become nomadic – working and even living in multiple places. As artists, we consider space – as the ground from which both ideas and artworks grow.  We frame it, inhabit it, share it into ‘place’ and map it. Our intimate knowledge of place seeps into our  work as we struggle with the representation and the visualization of a constantly shifting world. Throughout history, humans have constructed theories and paradigms to help make sense of the world.  Today in the midst of theory wars and epistemological meltdown, artists, more than ever, play a key role in the realization of meaning. We have the freedom to explore and combine various systems of thought – shaping  a heterogeneous approach in our own art practices by creating hybrids of media and disciplines.  At the same time, it is important that we are aware of the contemporary critique in order to participate in the conversations and ultimately situate ourselves in the  art world. Critical and cultural theories now include ‘place’ and various forms of experimental geography to understand our increasingly complex lives. The intention of this course is to investigate examples of contemporary critical thought as it relates to artistic practice while we examine the concept of ‘place’.

Course Content

We will explore concepts related to space, place and the movement (or flow) in
between in order to deepen and broaden cognitive and generative processes involved
in making art.  We will read from an interdisciplinary list drawn from critical theory,
cultural theory, and popular culture.  Collaborative projects will explore ‘mapping’ as an
art form and process in response to this investigation.

Course Requirements

We will read the writings and explore the ideas through discussions, writing,
presentation and critique.  Specifically, we will examine the role space, place and flow
play in our contemporary world and, more critically, in our art practice.
“Art is the most direct intensification of the resonance, and dissonance, between bodies and the cosmos, between one milieu or rhythm and another.  It is that which impacts the body most directly, that whichintensifies and affects most viscerally.  Art is the passage from the house to the universe, from territory to deterritorialization…..from the finite to the infinite”.     Elizabeth Grosz
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