Dis/placement and art

Elena Marchevska

This class is envisioned as a response to response to global demographic shifts and unprecedented levels of human displacement. During the class we will examine the internal connections between research, creation, and displacement viewing their interconnections as generative and a mode of creative activity. The class looks closely at the process of gathering sources and how these sources become catalysts for realizing and structuring a work. It investigates the role of displacement in visual theory and aesthetic politics. 

The course goal is to explore the ways art practices have been responding to the notion of borders, both physical and conceptual. Students will explore these inquiries and how they function creatively and critically through projects, readings, workshops, and discussions. We will look at specific artists in order to analyze approaches to these questions. Examples might include Guilermo Gomez-Pena and 'Pocha Nostra', Coco Fusco, Tania Bruguera, Tania El Khoury, Sigalid Landau, Sara Zaltash etc. 


Day 1: Politics of borders
This session will address the multiple and complex ways that the border between countries/regions (exp: Mexico/ USA, The Balkan Route, Israel and Palestine) has impacted and shaped culture in the borderlands and beyond.

10 Introduction to the class

10:30-12 Discussing the theoretical underpinning of border discussions since the 1960s and looking at art work that corresponds to the concepts of: border; borderland; liminal; deportation; immigrant.  

12-1 Lunch break

1-5 Practical session to explore the concepts in space. A map and a historical account will be handed out to students with locations that were historically used as borders or deportation spots. The students will have a chance to visit them and respond to the history/memory of this event. 

Day 2: Displacement 

This session will look into how and why to make art in response to global demographic shifts and unprecedented levels of human displacement.

10-12 We will discuss texts and also look at art work created from/about the experiences of people who are ‘staying temporarily’, sometimes for generations, in stateless limbos, detention centres, refugee camps or urban settlements – living within a country’s borders yet outside its political, legal and civic life.

12-1 Lunch break 

1-5 The students will be able to choose between two activities: continue to explore the location from day 1 or do interviews with three Berlin based artist and curators who are creating work around displacement. 

Day 3: Enjoy poverty

10-1 The last session will look at processes of gentrification and homelessness. We will look at activist art interventions in big cities and discuss the concepts of efficacy and ethical responsibility. The focus will be on discussing the reading In Defense of Housing: The Politics of Crisis by David Madden and Peter Marcuse  and watching the movie ‘Enjoy poverty’ by Renzo Martens. 

1-2 Lunch 

2-4 Students will have time to finish their practical exploration of the topic and share it with the group. Also, they will have a chance for one to one meeting with the tutor, to discuss their future exploration of this topic and networking possibilities. 

4-5 Reflective session

Required Reading
Castells, M 2007, ‘Communication power and counter-power in the network society’, International Journal of Communication, vol. 1, pp. 238-266. 

Josette Féral and Leslie Wickes (2011) From Event to Extreme Reality The Aesthetic of Shock. TDR: The Drama Review, Volume 55, Number 4, Winter 2011 (T212), pp. 51-63

Guilermo Gomez Pena  Dangerous Border Crossers (Routledge, 2000) pp: 133-174

Butler, Judith (2003) Violence, Mourning, Politics Studies in Gender and Sexuality 4(1):9–37

Khosravi, Shahram (2017) Engaging Anthropology: An  Auto- Ethnographic Approach 

Materials students should bring to class
Speakers, projector

Borders; Displacement; Gentrification; Housing; Activism


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