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Biennales, Triennales and Documentas (AHIS90007)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeAHIS90007
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject examines the exhibition of contemporary art in international survey exhibitions since the 1960s, delineating the methods that curators and directors have tested in response to the needs of art museums, bureaucracies, artists and publics across a range of geographic settings. The subject will examine a sequence of exhibitions from Australia and overseas, including early, national pavilion-based Venice Biennales, the director-driven 1970s Documentas, the 1980s global circuit of Biennales (including Sydney's), the newer Asian biennales (including Brisbane's Asia-Pacific triennials), the commercial art fairs (Frieze and the New York Armory Show). The subject considers these exhibitions' impact on contemporary art, as well as the roles of sponsorship, philanthropy and exhibition directors.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • have an understanding of key issues in the contemporary art curatorship and exhibition of international art;
  • be able to conduct independent curatorial research using catalogued sources and bibliographical indexes;
  • be familiar with the key issues in the curatorial practice of international contemporary art survey exhibitions such as Biennales, Triennales and Documentas;
  • be equipped with the relevant skills and methods to critically examine the different curatorial models of contemporary survey exhibitions;
  • have an overview of the history of Biennales, Triennales and Documentas within recent international art;
  • understand the role of recurring contemporary art survey exhibitions in preparation for a career in the industry;
  • gain an understanding of the selection policies of curators;
  • be able to understand the major theoretical and curatorial debates on international survey exhibitions, and be able to relate these to exhibitions in Australia; and
  • gain a knowledge of the changing nature of the installation and display of contemporary art.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision; and
  • be able to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.

Last updated: 24 May 2019