Virt@ Course "Aspects in Contemporary Art since the
this Introduction on video (requires Flash
Very welcome all to this course on Contemporary Art since
the 1970´s which will focus on some major aspects of art
making and art reception of the final third of the 20th
century in 8 related chapters.
1. First a few words about myself: I am Art Historian from my
professional background, and actually of Austrian origins. During
my years of studies, I was living in Salzburg and Vienna, and
since then I was practically always working in parallel in two
fields of activity: teaching art and cultural history on the one
hand, art organization and exhibition management on the other.
Due to professional reasons, we were leaving Vienna to settle
down in Brussels in the year 2001, and finally moved from
Brussels to Helsinki some 2 1/2 years ago. In Finland, I was
invited to lecture on Austrians Turn-of-the-Century Art at the
Department of Art History, University of Helsinki, which finally
led to a one-week-excursion to Vienna in September 2005.
2. Coming back to this very course, I want to suggest to you a
"Leitmotiv" (motto), and thus invite you to ponder over the
following quotation of the American scholar and art historian of
Sri Lankan origins, named Ananda Kumara Swami, who gave the
following seemingly contradictory statement:
"Despite the term of Visual Art, all works of art represent
And Bill Viola, one of the most important and well known
contemporary video artists, talks about the very same thing when
emphasizing: "Images that are invisible are the ones that mean
the most to us".
So, in this course we will commonly figure out, how
contemporary artists, like Bill Viola, have been exploring and
representing invisible things. This happened, for instance, by
the means of using the BODY itself and bodily experiences, as
during the 1970´s when artists like Marina Abramovic and Ulay
made themselves again and again the topic of performances and
actions, up to its physical and psychic limits. In Performance
Art, the borderline between art and life, (the fusion of art and
life is one of the major themes in 20th century art as a whole),
seems to be extremely thin, especially considering how often a
real danger becomes part of the artistic concept.
In general, one can also assume, that the whole idea of TIME
itself is an underlying current of the 20th century art making,
starting with the medium photography, continuing in the media
film and video, up to the new digital media. One can say, that
modernism has started, as soon as TIME itself got questioned and
finally made visible. Video art would become the medium that
would capture the time flow, the flow of events.
Barbara M.Stafford, Amercan art historian, is a researcher in
the field of linking the image history to our internal mental,
neuronal structures, thus referring to a thesis, which talks of
the very nature of experience by saying: all experience is
simultaneously abstract and sensuous, as well as our material
world we live in, is both: real an unreal. The way we are
organizing space and time reflects our mental and sensory
patterns, as human beings tend to project body parts on to the
world. Creating images, thus, is a fundamental part of life and
deeply connected to humans´ evolution.
3. In addition to this online course elements, which aims to
develop your understanding of contemporary art by introducing a
wider range of visual art works and by assisting you to engage in
a critical discussion both about these works and about certain
philosophical and theoretical issues concerning art more
generally, importance will be given to accompanied gallery and
museum visits as a way of familiarising you with art works in
situ and assisting you in a critical examination of these works.
I thought about visiting the Finnish Museum of Photography,
currently displaying works of the Finnish photographer Elina
Brotherus, and visiting the ARS 06 exhibition at Kiasma.
Additionally an online video-lecture given by the video artist
Bill Viola, will be an integral part of the course, as well as a
film documentary on the British artist Andrew Goldsworthy.
Last but not least, I would like to let you know that you are
always welcome to contact me via email, and that I am very
looking forward to meeting you on the occasion of our presence
Kiitos / Thanks / Danke!