Globalisation, Art and the Political in South Asia - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Globalisation, Art and the Political in South Asia

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MA History of Art Special Option

Globalisation, Art and the Political in South Asia

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Simryn Gill, from Social Insects, (c-type print), 2016
Shiraz Bayjoo, still from Île-de-France, HD film, 2015
T. Shanaathanan, Cabinet of Resistance, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Saskia Fernando Gallery
Sheela Gowda and Christoph Storz, Stopover, 2012
Simryn Gill, from Social Insects, (c-type print), 2016
Shiraz Bayjoo, still from Île-de-France, HD film, 2015
T. Shanaathanan, Cabinet of Resistance, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Saskia Fernando Gallery
Sheela Gowda and Christoph Storz, Stopover, 2012

Dr Emilia Terracciano

This course explores how art has become a tool for political expediency, reflection and intense scrutiny across South Asia. What do histories of colonial subjection and resistance tell us about ongoing struggles for and against globalisation in the realm of art? 

In the aftermath of the 1990s, a period of economic and societal liberalisation, many South Asian countries opened to the world after experiences of Third World utopianism. It was a period of self-criticism and re-appraisal, during which globally engaged and diaspora artists felt that nationalist sentiment and modernist aspiration had fundamentally constrained their practice. Artists confronted new threats posed by the surge of global corporate monopolies, the growth of the militant right and challenges to secularism posed by fundamentalism. The tensions between the modern powerhouse economy, manual and indentured forms of labour and environmental exploitation became focal points of practice, as artists critically engaged with their predecessors.

We will consider artistic developments through a series of critical readings in the fields of photography, video and installation, following the upsurge of advanced technologies after the Cold War. The technoscape of the 1990s witnessed the emergence of artists, often inspired by hackers, human rights groups and environmental activists, who chose to operate beyond the gallery economy to create post-national, response-able communities. 

Texts drawn from the fields of art criticism, political theory, post-colonialism and ecology, by Geeta Kapur, Frantz Fanon, Vijay Prashad, Sarat Maharaj, Nira Wickramasinghe, Saloni Mathur, TJ Demos and Vandana Shiva, among others, will be used. We will be looking at the works of such artists as Sunil Janah, Nasreen Mohamedi, Vivan Sundaram, Amar Kanwar, Anand Patwardhan, Ravi Agarwal, Simryn Gill, Shiraz Bayjoo, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Sheela Gowda and Naeem Mohaiemen. The course is structured around gallery visits, case studies, artists’ visits, thematic seminars and text-based discussion classes.  

Courtauld Course Lecturer

About the lecturer

Emilia received a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and History of Art from University College London (2005) an MA (2007) and PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art (2013). She was the recipient of the Nehru Trust Award (2008) and the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scholarship at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2008-12). Emilia acted as consultant for the British Museum acquisition team (2013) and junior cataloguer at the Victoria and Albert Museum, providing detailed descriptions of items stored in the South Asia collection of Modern and Contemporary art (2008-13).

Emilia has taught in various institutions including UCL, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Christie’s Education, FADA (Kingston University) and Photographer’s Gallery.

She regularly contributes to the art press including Frieze, Modern Painters, Burlington Magazine, Caravan and Photomonitor.

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