Visual Culture and Social Art Practice

ART-SHU 250 Visual Culture and Social Art Practice: Collaborations and Community Interactions

social art

What is the function of art in our contemporary society?  Who is it for, what does it represent, and why? How can we, as visual culture participants and producers, ensure that we are relevant, engaged, engaging, and inclusive? How does locality and culture play a part in how we think about and present what we are making?

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Visual Culture and Social Art Practice: Collaborations and Community Interactions is an interdisciplinary course which combines relational, performative, and collaborative community-based engagements with theoretical and conceptual investigations. Students interact artistically and directly with local communities as well as consider themselves in relation to those communities. Through the lens of social and relational art practices, they will develop and realize projects specific to various communities in Shanghai. The course is taught by Monika Lin, Assistant Arts Professor of Visual Arts.


The purpose of this course is two-fold. 1. Students will gain an understanding of Social Art Practice in China (including projects such as Social Sensibility, The China Rural Reconstruction Academy, and Grass Stage) and 2. students will engage directly with Shanghai publics through outreach and collaborative projects. This is an opportunity for students to interact artistically and directly with local populations through the lens of social and relational art practices to develop and realize projects specific to various communities in Shanghai.


Students will learn to incorporate theory, studio, and social engagement practices (collaborative activities, ethical interactions, and interactive skills) in their understanding and making of art.  They will consider notions of visibility, viewership, and authorship, in a global context, joining the dialogue regarding art practice shifting towards a dematerialisation of art and engaging communities outside of the specific art sphere. In the visual arts, conscious engagement with communities is both a way to open up new considerations and approaches to visual culture language as well as make spaces for autonomy and agency. Inter-personal and collaborative techniques can inform other disciplinary pursuits and life beyond this particular class.


In order to ground their visual pursuits, students will deepen their conceptual development of ideas through discourse based on selected art references, theoretical, critical and contemporary readings. Students will become proficient in the fundamental skills needed to conduct research, write a research paper, develop language for critical thinking, and formulate a project in collaboration with a community organisation. Students are encouraged to bring with them previous experiences and their individual perspectives in order to personalize and deepen their understanding of this course material.


Prerequisites: None

Course Syllabus: AY 2021-2022 Link