Concepts & Debates in Contemporary Art (VA 420)

2023 Spring
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Vis. Arts&Vis.l Comm Des.(VA)
Meltem Işık,
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Interactive lecture,Seminar,Other
Interactive,Learner centered,Communicative,Discussion based learning,Other
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There is perhaps nothing more characteristic of art thought of as modern than that it has given rise to debates - about its value, meaning, purpose or even existence as art as such. This course will review those debates, and explore the relations between these debates and their consequences, if any, in a changing field of art. It will also review the definitions of the modern and its others implied by these debates.


In addition to providing ways in understanding, analyzing, and/or discussing the works and theories of art this course will allow students to work individually on a proposed topic for presentation and discussion. Main topics of study will be: Understanding Contemporary Art; Analyses of critical and avant-garde artistic practice; Questions of display; Histories and politics of Installation; Issues of Public Space and Participation; The Museum as Public Space; Urbanity: social, economic, political, spatial conditions and Everyday Life.


  • Understanding of global contemporary art, especially in relation to questions of display, spatial expansions of artistic practice and audience participation.
  • Differentiate the critical implications of contemporary art; and the tools, methods, gestures artists employ to achieve a combination of the poetic and the political.
  • Analyze works of contemporary artists from around the world, with a focus on post-1960's art and current practices.
  • Understanding of installation and post-medium based practices, and their relevancy to art history.
  • Approach critically to concepts and debates in contemporary art, assess the relevancy of geographic and historical contexts in which artists work.
  • Question the roles of the museum, the market, and the city in relation to generating the 'public's of contemporary art.


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 5

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 5

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 5

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 5

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 5

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 4

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 5

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 5

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the multiple methodologies and interpret different approaches, concepts, and theoretical legacies in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies. 3

2. Identify interconnections of knowledge within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, literature, visual studies, philosophy, and geography. 3

3. Cultivate a critical approach to the study of culture, articulating the relations between culture, power, and history; exploring cultural diversity and socio-cultural change at the local, national and global level; and exploring the corresponding demands for rights and social justice. 5

4. With the use of appropriate technologies, be able to present advanced oral and written evaluations of developments in the realm of cultural production, consumption, and representation. 5

1. Demonstrate safe working habits and a general understanding of materials and processes in the visual arts. 3

2. Demonstrate knowledge of representational processes using visual as well as audial material as mediums of representation. 4

3. Show working knowledge of the process of transforming abstract/textual concepts into concrete, audio/visual forms. 4

4. Appreciate and express the cultural significance of art and understand its evolution and purposes. 5

5. Develop an awareness of compositional and organizational strategies for the effective deployment of formal elements of visual art. 4

6. Read visual texts with a deep knowledge of art history and theory and the ability of situating the content and form of the visual representation both in a historical and thematic context. 5

7. Employ necessary background knowledge regarding art administration in the body of museums and galleries. 4

8. Show a practical and technical command of materials and methods in one or more media of the visual arts. 1


  Percentage (%)
Assignment 40
Participation 20
Presentation 40



Boris Groys "Politics of Installation"
Irit Rogoff "We: Mutualities and Collectivities"
Claire Bishop "Participation"
RoseLee Goldberg ?Performance Art: Futurism to the Present?
Achille Bonito Oliva ?Encylopedia of the World. Artist Dialogues. 1968-2008?
Hans Ulrich Orbist ?The Conversation Series 17, Yoko Ono?

Other resources include websites of major art institutes, galleries, artists' websites:
One such resource we will use a lot is Art in 21st Century. Art21 presents thought-provoking and sophisticated content about contemporary art, it is an invaluable source of information to learn first-hand from the artists of our time.