Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Queering the City: Activist Art in the Late Twentieth Century
Tuesday | Thursday: 8:00 - 9:30am
In the 1980s and 90s, following wider changes in the art world and in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, queer artists took to the streets. Since then, many waves of queer art and activism have responded to local conditions and developed transnational dynamics that allow us to speak of disparate processes of “queering the city.” In the first part of this course, we will examine the tactics that queer artists developed to merge art with activism inside and outside the museum. How did artists respond to the political climate of the eighties, and how did questions of sexuality become important both with regard to artists’ biographies and to artistic production? How did queer work and the performance of different identities help mount a diverse array of institutional critiques that are still relevant today? In the second part of the course, we will focus on how queer life is experienced in contemporary cities, exploring how sexuality intersects with gender, race, class, and bodily ability through an examination of case studies from U.S., Latin American, and European cities.
As this is the second course in the Reading and Composition series, the syllabus also places an emphasis on the acquisition of the skills required for researching and writing a 10- to- 12 page undergraduate term paper. Specific emphasis will be given to tracing dominant arguments about queer theory and activism through each reading.The paper will analyze an artwork/artifact or building/urban site using the critical tools developed throughout the course. Case studies will include the work of David Wojnarowicz and Felix Gonzalez-Torres in New York City, the visual campaigns of ACT UP, and the national itinerary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.