HIST06017 2019 Visual and Material Culture 4 (Art & Social Practice)

General Details

Full Title
Visual and Material Culture 4 (Art & Social Practice)
Transcript Title
Visual and Material Culture 4
80 %
Subject Area
HIST - History / Theory of Art
YADA - Yeats Academy Art Dsgn & Arch
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Angela Mehegan, Louis McManus
Programme Membership
SG_AARTT_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Art SG_AARTT_B07 201900 Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art

This module explores conditions, themes and issues in Visual / Material Culture from the 1990s to the present day through an examination of a variety of artwork, artefacts, systems and social activities. Changes and developments in economic, political, ideological and cultural forces in the creative industries and related disciplines underpin this examination.  As well as addressing aesthetic values and visual interpretation methods, the module considers the importance of everyday visual culture and its importance to the field of socially-engaged art today.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Demonstrate a concentrated  knowledge and understanding of the relationship between visual art practices and the production, consumption and reception of Visual and Material Culture today.


Research, organise and analyse material, texts and documents relating to Art, Design and Material Culture.


Contextualise the theories and discourses that underpin idealogical, cultural and social developments in Western culture from late 20th century to today.


Communicate a perspective on themes, issues and ideas relevant to contemporary visual art through written assignments and oral/research presentations.


Evaluate the links between theory and practice in the analysis of themes,issues and perspectives pertinent to understating the significance of socially engaged art projects.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Series of Illustrated  thematic lectures available on VLE portal.  Subject-specific seminars and small group discussions  address syllabi topic areas during the course of the semester. These are conducted through group discussion, peer-led presentations and in-class reading seminars. 1-1 tutorials are scheduled for draft written assignments.

Module Assessment Strategies

Required elements are outlined in the module handbook with opportunities to demonstrate learning across a range of activities based on both written assignment(s) and individual oral presentation. The assessment strategy focuses on methods to gauge the student's understanding of the subject of Visual and Material Culture in context through their application of informed research and visual methodologies. Through the module assessments, students apply research and visual methodologies and discover ways in which established information literacy skills are used in the field of History/Theory of Art.

The assessment strategy focuses on the students introduction to :

  • Interpretative/historical research
  • Visual analyses and academic writing
  • Literature Review/Topic in Context
  • Oral and visual presentation
  • Discipline-specific research

Repeat Assessments

Repeat projects based on failed CA components from assignments issued during course of semester.

Indicative Syllabus

The indicative syllabus below explores conditions, themes and issues in the work and practices of late 20th and 21st century visual artists through the lens of socially engaged art and contemporary artworlds. This programme of study explores conditions, themes and issues in Visual/Material Culture through an examination of artwork, artefacts, systems, theories, ideologies and social activities. 

  • Mass Media, Popular Culture and Representation ( media / new media)
  • Activism, Cultural Resistance and Creative Practices
  • Globalisation, Localisation and the concept of the Everyday
  • The Contemporary/Irish Art Today

Seminars are discipline-based and address the critical nature of the content and context of the above lecture themes outlined below:

Context for Understanding Contemporary Art: Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990,  Post WWII Art & Conceptualism, 1995-Today: Trends in Contemporary Art . The Visual Art Object / Louise Lawler. Media/New Media: Video. Film. Concept of the Everyday. Reading / Textual Analysis

Contemporary Art and Social PracticeLiving as Form Archive, Art and Social Practice/Social Engagement. Socially engaged Art (SEA); Theory + 20th century antecedents. Relational Aesthetic and Rethinking Art with Social Practice. Activism and the Politics of Resistance.

Contemporary Irish Art: Themes and Issues in Irish Art. Tallentire, Byrne, Doherty & Prendergast.  What is? IMMA documents

Studio Project Research: Visiting Lecturer programme.  Document-based research. (‘People & Systems’ 2019)

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Literature Review: Socially Engaged Art Continuous Assessment Assignment 40 % Week 6 3,4,5
2 Essay Thematic-based assignment Continuous Assessment Essay 50 % Week 12 1,2,3,4,5
3 VMC4 seminar Participation Formative Performance Evaluation - % OnGoing 1,2

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Core Themes 1 Weekly 1.00
Seminar Flat Classroom Contextual Studies 2 Weekly 2.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2016-11-01 Themes of Contemporary Art Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN 0190276622 ISBN-13 9780190276621

Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 (Fourth Edition) is a unique introduction to eight important themes that have recurred in art over the past few decades-identity, the body, time, memory, place, language, science, and spirituality. Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel provide anintriguing and accessible guide that will stimulate students, gallery goers, and other readers to think actively and critically about visual art from 1980 to the present. The opening chapter provides a concise overview of the period, analyzing how key changes (the rise of digital media, a growingawareness of globalization, the influence of theory, the use of the Internet, and interactions with everyday culture) have resulted in an art world with dramatically expanded boundaries. Each of the remaining eight chapters features an introduction to one theme; a brief look at historical precedentsand influences; a detailed analysis of how contemporary artists have responded to and embodied aspects of the theme in specific works; and two in-depth and fascinating profiles of artists who have extensively explored aspects of the theme in his or her work.Generously illustrated in full color, Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 (Fourth Edition) covers an international array of artists working with an immense variety of materials, techniques, subjects, and forms. A timeline that situates contemporary art in the context of major events inworld history, art, and popular culture enhances the engaging, readable text.

Required Reading
2014-09-15 The 21st-Century Art Book Phaidon Press
ISBN 071486739X ISBN-13 9780714867397

The 21st‐Century Art Book is an A‐to‐Z guide of contemporary artists featuring established art‐world figures Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall alongside rising stars of the next generations. Global in scope, the book features work from 50 countries across a variety of mediums, from painting, drawing, and sculpture to digital art, video installation, and performance. Each of the 280 artists included has a dedicated page pairing a significant artwork from his or her oeuvre with lively and informative text. An international directory of major art events along with a helpful glossary round out the package, making this both a must‐have resource and a beautifully illustrated celebration of contemporary art.

Required Reading
2011-11-07 Defining Contemporary Art Phaidon Press
ISBN 0714862096 ISBN-13 9780714862095

In the mid-1980s the sprouting of new movements that had driven modern art since the nineteenth century finally went dormant, sputtering out with a last few half-hearted lels ('pattern painting', 'neo-geo', 'commodity art'). But this was not the end of art history -- far from it. In the years since, art's creative development has remained more vibrant than ever, resulting in a staggering diversity of new forms. Defining Contemporary Art responds to this unique landscape with an innovative approach to art history. Assembled and written by eight of the most prominent curators working today, all of whom have both witnessed and shaped this period, Defining Contemporary Art tells the story of the two hundred pivotal artworks of the past twenty-five years. These artworks include not only the most talked out pieces but also the quietly influential works, those which may have been overlooked at the time of their making but which went on to change the paradigm of their era. Arranged year by year, these two hundred works provide a true chronological depiction of creativity in our era, forming a mosaic in which readers may find their own patterns..

Required Reading
2008-03-26 Art & Today Phaidon Press
ISBN 0714845140 ISBN-13 9780714845142

Provides a comprehensive survey of modern art, covering four hundred artists and their works from the last thirty years.

Required Reading
2012-09-19 Methods & Theories of Art History Laurence King Publishing
ISBN 1856698998 ISBN-13 9781856698993

Art historical theory is a forum of intense, often passionate debate. This book provides an accessible introduction to the range of critical theories used in analyzing art. It covers a broad range of approaches, presenting individual arguments, controversies, and divergent perspectives. This second edition has been updated to reflect recent scholarship in contemporary art. Clearly written, this book is ideal for the undergraduate student or anyone interested in the world of ideas.

Required Reading
2007 Art and social change Tate
ISBN UCSD:31822034557082

"This reader gathers together an international selection of artists' proposals, manifestos, theoretical texts and public declarations that focus on the question of political engagement and the possibility of social change"--back cover.

Required Reading
2004 Contemporary Art Black Dog Pub Limited
ISBN 1904772064 ISBN-13 9781904772064

Texts and interviews with key contemporary artists

Required Reading
2011 Education for Socially Engaged Art
ISBN 1934978590 ISBN-13 9781934978597

"For too long Social Practice has been the notoriously flimsy flipside of market-based contemporary art: a world of hand-wringing practitioners easily satisfied with the feeling of 'doing good' in a community, and unaware that their quasi-activist, anti-formalist positions in fact have a long artistic heritage and can be critically dissected using the tools of art and theatre history. Helguera's spunky primer promises to offer a much-needed critical compass for those adrift in the expanded social field." -Claire Bishop, Professor of Contemporary Art and Exhibition History, CUNY, and author of Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship "This is an extremely timely and thoughtful reference book. Drawn from empirical and extensive experience and research, it provides a curriculum and framework for thinking about the complexity of socially engaged practices. Locating the methodologies of this work in between disciplines, Helguera draws on histories of performance, pedagogy, sociology, ethnography, linguistics, community and public practices. Rather than propose a system he exposes the temporalities necessary to make these situations possible and resonant. This is a tool that will allow us to consider the difficulties of making socially engaged art and move closer to finding a language through which we can represent and discuss its impact." -Sally Tallant, Artistic Director, Liverpool Biennial "Helguera has produced a highly readable book that absolutely needs to be in the back pocket of anyone interested in teaching or learning about socially engaged art" -Tom Finkelpearl, Director of the Queens Museum, New York, and author of Dialogues in Public Art

Required Reading
2011-09-12 The One and the Many Duke University Press
ISBN 9780822349877 ISBN-13 0822349876

DIVExamines questions of agency, artisanship, and identity in relation to collaborative art practice./div

Required Reading
2010-12-15 Dark Matter Pluto Press
ISBN 0745327532 ISBN-13 9780745327532

Art is big business, with some artists able to command huge sums of money for their works, while the vast majority are ignored or dismissed by critics. This book shows that these marginalized artists, the "dark matter" of the art world, are essential to the survival of the mainstream and that they frequently organize in opposition to it. Gregory Sholette, a politically engaged artist, argues that imagination and creativity in the art world originate thrive in the non-commercial sector shut off from prestigious galleries and champagne receptions. This broader creative culture feeds the mainstream with new forms and styles that can be commodified and used to sustain the few artists admitted into the elite. This dependency, and the advent of inexpensive communication, audio and video technology, has allowed this "dark matter" of the alternative art world to increasingly subvert the mainstream and intervene politically as both new and old forms of non-capitalist, public art. This book is essential for anyone interested in interventionist art, collectivism, and the political economy of the art world.

Required Reading
2012 Living as Form MIT Press
ISBN 9780262017343 ISBN-13 0262017342

'Living as Form' grew out of a major exhibition at Creative Time in New York City. Like the exhibition, the book is a landmark survey of more than 100 projects selected by a 30-person curatorial advisory team; each project is documented by a selection of colour images.

Required Reading
2013-05-09 Community Art Berg
ISBN 9780857853165 ISBN-13 0857853163

Exploring key issues for the anthropology of art and art theory, this fascinating text provides the first in-depth study of community art from an anthropological perspective. The book focuses on the forty year history of Free Form Arts Trust, an arts group that played a major part in the 1970s struggle to carve out a space for community arts in Britain. Turning their back on the world of gallery art, the fine-artist founders of Free Form were determined to use their visual expertise to connect, through collaborative art projects, with the working-class people excluded by the established art world. In seeking to give the residents of poor communities a greater role in shaping their built environment, the artists' aesthetic practice would be transformed. Community Art examines this process of aesthetic transformation and its rejection of the individualized practice of the gallery artist. The Free Form story calls into question common understandings of the categories of "art," "expertise," and "community," and makes this story relevant beyond late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century Britain.

Required Reading
2017-10-02 The Global Contemporary Art World John Wiley & Sons
ISBN 9781118288917 ISBN-13 1118288912

Doing the business : producing consumption in the Hong Kong art world -- New media art and cultural globalism in South Korea -- Globalizing Indian contemporary art : the biennial as rhetorical form -- Social production of contemporary art in the PRC : higher education and the branding of 'contemporary Chinese art' -- Contemporary art and post-national identities in the State of Palestine

Required Reading
2013 The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds Mit Press
ISBN 0262518341 ISBN-13 9780262518345

A full-color book looks at the globalization of visual arts in recent years, including developments ranging from exhibition histories and the rise of new art spaces to art's branding in such emerging markets as Asia, the Middle East and the Gulf States. Original.

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Costello, D & Vickery J., eds. (2007) Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers, Berg.

Foster, Hal, Krauss, R, Bois Y-A, Buchloh, B. (2004) Art Since 1900 Modernism, Antimodernism Postmodernism, Thames & Hudson.

Geczy, A. (2008) Art: Histories, Theories and Exceptions, Berg.

Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington VT: Ashgate.

Hopkins, D. (2000) After Modern Art 1945-2000 Oxford Univ. Press.

Kocur. Z. & Leung, S., eds. (2005) Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985,  Blackwell.

Perry G, & Wood P. (2004) Themes in Contemporary Art, OU & Yale Uni. Press. 

Rose, G. (2002) Visual Methodologies, Sage.

Journal Resources


URL Resources



Other Resources

VLE Moodle

Additional Information