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Advanced Projects in Visual Arts - Artistic Intervention: Creative Responses to Conflict and Crisis

Students from various backgrounds and disciplines are welcome.

This course seeks to develop an understanding of the role of cultural production and artistic intervention in conditions of conflict and crisis. How should one investigate or intervene in such situations through critical reflection, creative agency and participatory action? The course will use a real-world scenario to examine the ways in which artistic interventions may transform, disrupt or subvert current urban, political and social conditions in critical ways.

A public lecture series titled "Zones of Emergency - Artistic Interventions - Creative Responses," will showcase presentations by organizations, collectives, and individuals engaged in contested spaces and sites/situations of conflict and crisis. These include "Blacksmoke," an activist/environmentalist art collective, "Survival International," a group that supports the rights of indigenous people, and Lucy Walker's "Waste Land," a film about Vik Muniz's artistic intervention in the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro.

The seminar/workshop sessions will engage students through readings of historical and contemporary scenarios, discussion of works presented by Zones of Emergency lecture series speakers, and hands-on projects taking the town of Minami Sanriku in the Miyagi prefecture of Japan as a case study. Minami Sanriku is a town severely affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The goal of the course is to foster critical reflection, creative inquiry and exploratory responses to the on-going crises of Minami Sanriku.

The course will have two parts. During the first half of the semester, students will develop projects and assignments to build the conceptual framework to understand and respond creatively to conflict and crisis situations. In the second half of the course, students will work in groups to address and develop a response to the unique post tsunami and earthquake conditions of Minami Sanriku. We will work as a class to develop relevant artistic interventions that create platforms for community dialogue, ranging from a low-tech tsunami warning system, a tea or bathhouse, to reestablish social interaction.