Cultural actuality / art actuality and interpretation (B3)

De erg

Professor: Elke de Rijcke

This course is focused on the reintroduction of the body and emotion in contemporary art. From the 1990s onward, the body as a medium and as a means of expression has become a pervasive notion in every artistic practice, through the reactivation of sensory experience (pathos) and a tendency to engage with the audience (empathy). The renewal of the artistic experience implies the emergence of new issues in the field of art and requires elucidating new aesthetic categories. We will approach several contemporary aesthetic criteria in order to read works and performances from the last two decades. Among these criteria, we will take a particular look on the notion of “symptom-work”, the specificities of contemporary themes, the shift toward an aesthetic of reception and of participation, the notion of referential aesthetics and that of reiterative work. This course provides a large survey of the body as representation in various contemporary artistic practices, approaching works in terms of themes and of forms, and exploring their underlying issues. This analytic approach is complemented by contextual investigations. In order to understand our contemporary world, we have to apprehend it in conjunction with larger interrogations linked to the aesthetic, literary, political and social fields. Philosophers and scholars in contemporary art as well as artists themselves (interviews, essays) will be accompany our exploration of contemporary art.

The Cultural Actuality course is mainly a collaborative seminar in which students play a significant role. The course is structured in two parts. The first one will consist of an in-depth analysis of several aesthetic criteria and aspects linked to the representation of the body in contemporary art. The course will detail a number of interpretative tools enabling to gain access to contemporary practices, and will train students to the critical reading of other works. In the second part of the course, the students will submit their own aesthetic and critical commentaries of particular shows and performances. This is a group work, in which each student will speak individually. These moments will lead to a discussion followed by feedback session.