Cities, Art and Catastrophe

Parsons School of Design: Art and Design History

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Cities, Art and Catastrophe

Spring 2019

Taught By: Radhika Subramaniam

Section: A

CRN: 6804

Credits: 3

The aim of this course is to examine the demands placed on the practices of art – writing and image-making – in cities across the world by catastrophe. The work of art in the aftermath of catastrophe is confronted with several conflicting responses – that catastrophe cannot or should not be represented; that the recovery of the past has a historical and contemporary urgency; that the past is irrecoverable; that only art can heal the wounds of the past; that such healing must take place without directly addressing the politics of the trauma, that art is central to what is often termed the “revitalization” of cities. Art after catastrophe has therefore variously played the role of testimony, memorial, mourning, indictment, advocate and healing; it has been considered both essential and a luxury. Catastrophe itself takes many different forms – genocide, natural disasters, war, state-sponsored killings, torture, but also the catastrophe in which humanity itself is not recognized such as slavery. It can also take the form of endemic crises such as hunger and food insecurities or poverty and debt. The course will work through several key questions: How are artists provoked by the mechanisms of destruction and terror? How does art intervene in the erasures of history, demand recognition and restore voice? What is the effect of trauma on narrative? What remains and must remain unspeakable, ineffable and unknowable? How do memory and forgetting affect the recovery of daily life after catastrophe? These questions will be staged in several specific urban contexts that have stimulated complex aesthetic responses. The geographical, social and political particularity will sharpen the focus, even while the artistic texts gesture toward broader concerns.

Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least two prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture. One of these courses should be 3000-level.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Art and Design History (PLAD)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 16

Enrollment Status: Open*

*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 10:42pm 6/15/2019

Meeting Info:

Days: Thursday

Times: 12:10pm - 2:50pm

Building: 6 East 16th Street

Room: 909

Date Range: 1/24/2019 - 5/9/2019