Both human rights and contemporary art may be approached as regimes of mediation inscribed into larger projects of global ordering. From producing archetypes of universal subjecthood to organising how agency, ethics and reality are conceived, these two regimes have historically functioned as image-makers for different strands of the global liberal project.
The seminar will explore various sides of the argument that contemporary art has effectively stepped into the shoes of the human rights project as a system more attuned to the needs of neoliberal deterritorialisation. How does the concept of an individuating subject become activated in the two regimes of contemporary art and human rights? How do human rights and contemporary art deal with political and aesthetic change and to what ends? What are the limitations of these two regimes’ mediating powers and are they relevant in dealing with the issues that face the world and humanity today?
We will use texts, films, artworks, specific case-studies and presentation by a guest speaker as the basis for class discussion. For the final session, students will be asked to respond to the main arguments of the seminar by producing either a paper, a presentation or any other form of digital content that can be shared with the seminar participants.
The seminar is composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. Readings will be set for each week, and students will be expected to write 400 words on some aspect of the week’s topic in advance. During this period material written by the participants about the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Both the reading list and the student’s responses will be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment on, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion. The final assessment will consist of an extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.
Image: Alfredo Jaar, The Geometry of Conscience, 2010, Santiago de Chile, Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos, Courtesy the artist, New York, Photography: Cristobal Palma