The following itinerary provides an outline of the proposed daily program. Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate museum opening hours, temporary exhibitions and other events.
International House provides a good student cafeteria serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The program cost includes a meal card equivalent to $200.00US. The average breakfast is approximately $5.00 – $7.00, lunch is about $6.00 – $9.00 and dinner about $8.00 – $12.00. The approximate daily meal allowance has been estimated to be $20.00 per day. The meal card is envisaged therefore, to cover approximately one-third of the meals required for the duration of the program. The meal allowance is NON REFUNDABLE, regardless of the amount left on the cards at the end of the course. There are delis, supermarkets and restaurants close to International House.
New York - 30 nights
Day 1: Saturday 11 June: Melbourne-New York
Depart Melbourne for New York. Upon arrival, transfer by private coach to International House.
Day 2: Sunday 12 June: New York
- Lecture 1 and Tutorial 1 (Afternoon): Orientation.
A review of accommodation facilities, meal arrangements, teaching activities, and means of getting about the city. This introductory lecture will review the general procedures around which the teaching programme will be structured. The general pattern of lecture, tutorial, and site visit will be outlined. Questions regarding assessment, assignments, reading and research procedures will be answered. Administrative details such as tutorial groups and availability of teaching staff for meetings will be attended. Accommodation facilities and day to day life in International House will be discussed. To a large extent, this will be a ‘housekeeping’ session, but is an important stage in the process of settling into study and accommodation.
Day 3: Monday 13 June: New York
- Lecture 2 (Afternoon): ‘The City as Text’.
An introduction to the symbolic status of New York City, as constructed within historical, literary, musical and cinematic texts. The place of such symbolic economies within the material and ideological economies of the city. This lecture will provide an overview of the differing ways in which meaning has been attributed to the city. The construction of the city as one of the prime metaphors of modernism, especially in art and literature, will be reviewed. Models of the contemporary city drawn from architectural and urban theory will be used to introduce distinctions between modern and contemporary experiences of the city.
- Tutorial 2 (Afternoon): ‘The City as Text’.
Readings for this tutorial focus on the centrality of New York City within American conceptions of modernity and urbanism. Such conceptions may be constructed on the basis of material history (political, economic, and institutional structures) or mythological structures (the symbolic structures of literature, art, film, popular memory). Readings note the way that these differing systems meld with and build on each other. Transitions from modern to contemporary understandings of the city and its meanings will be considered, in particular the ways in which the city becomes a figure within discourse (e.g. a metaphor or symbol). More recent concerns over New York’s apparent loss of centrality within American and international culture will be discussed. The reading material also considers the recent redevelopment of the famous Times Square precinct of mid-town at the hands of the Disney Corporation. We will consider the debates that circulated around this redevelopment in terms of what they suggest about the city as a public and contemporary space. Central to the tutorial will also be the effort to reformulate a material and discursive New York following the 9.11 disaster, and the role that cultural production plays in this project. Ideas emerging in this tutorial will form the basis for later study of SoHo and public art.
Day 4: Tuesday 14 June: New York
- Site Visit 1: Times Square, The New York Public Library & Bryant Park.
Students will travel to the NYPL via subway. This field trip will guide students through the primary research facilities of one of the world’s great public libraries. Library orientation will be informal, and to a large extent self-guided. A visit to the adjacent Bryant Park will introduce students to models of urban renewal in New York City, and controversies resulting from them. Students visit Times Square to witness the ‘Disneyfication’ of New York.
Day 5: Wednesday 15 June: New York
- Site Visit 2: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Building an understanding of the structures, zones and ideologies of the Manhattan art scene, we shall visit the Museum of Modern Art in order to examine the version of art historical narrative presented in its display of Twentieth Century art, and the ways in which contemporary art is appended to this narrative. www.moma.org
Day 6: Thursday 16 June: New York
- Site Visit 3: SoHo: Cultural Institutions and Cultural Landscapes
The site visit is a general one, with both practical and psychological ends. It will allow students to become familiar with the daily routines of travel, since getting to the site will allow us to rehearse our usual rhythm of post-breakfast rendezvous, travel to site, and reunion at destination. The SoHo district is a densely packed enclave of light industry, residential and commercial activities. As a geographical focus of the contemporary art market until a few years ago, it is a site that has been superseded by Chelsea as a locus for art but which still houses several key galleries and art spaces, which we will visit. This walking tour will orientate students to the area, exploring its history, architecture and current use from the street. At the end of this visit, students may choose to walk further downtown to Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. Students may visit a major urban renewal project affected by tragic recent events that alter our reading of this part of the city forever. This is a site combining housing, commercial space, parks and site specific art works, Battery Park City became the focus of debates as to the meanings of urban space and the possibility of regenerating New York. Artists include Mary Miss, Ned Smyth, Richard Artschwager, Tom Otterness, and R.M. Fischer. Students are encouraged to visit the New York Vietnam War Memorial, Water Street, and Battery Park (littered with earlier memorials) for a broader survey of public sculpture, as well as the 9/11 World Trade Center site.
Day 7: Friday 17 June: New York
Squeezed out of SoHo in the mid-1990s by rising real estate prices, commercial galleries have colonized the semi-industrial area of Chelsea (West 20s). On this site visit we will visit Chelsea, this time working inside contemporary art galleries. These galleries have opened up over the past eight years in an exodus from SoHo and the ‘blue-chip’ zone of 57th St. Chelsea is an opportunity to see the premier art zone for contemporary art in the world, as well as to see the increasing parallels (architectural and procedural) between the art dealer’s gallery and the museum. It is assumed that students will return to Chelsea galleries independently.
Day 8: Saturday 18 June: New York
- Site Visit 5: New Museum and Lower East Side
This day we visit the emerging galleries of the Lower East Side, then meet again after lunch to visit the New Museum, an extraordinary space newly opened in Manhattan. The museum is a major centre for Contemporary Art and the development of new ideas, and the seven level building is now a remarkable addition to the downtown skyline. www.newmuseum.org/about
Day 9: Sunday 19 June: New York
Day 10: Monday 20 June: Excursion Upstate New York
- Site Visit 6: (Early morning start) Dia Beacon
Depart early by bus for Beacon where we shall spend the afternoon at the Dia Beacon museum, a huge museum housing one of the principal collections of European and American contemporary art in the country. In the late afternoon we return to New York. This is one of the most important site-visits of the tour, and the journey itself is up the spectacular Hudson River Valley, site of paintings by the mid-19th c. Hudson River School, whose works can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum back in NYC. www.diabeacon.org
Day 11: Tuesday 21 June: New York
- Lecture 3 (Morning): ‘Cultural Institutions & Cultural Landscapes’.
A review of the status (social, historical, political) of major cultural institutions in New York City. Focussing on the Museum of Modern Art, this session will consider the ways in which museums embody cultural and ideological values. It will examine the history of that institution, and relate it to histories and theories of civic space and culture in New York. Issues of funding and patronage will be used to discuss the ‘provision’ and ‘ownership’ of culture in New York. The physical, aesthetic and ideological space of the museum will be discussed in order to explore the kinds of behaviours, experiences and ideas generated by art museums.
- Tutorial 3 (Morning): ‘Cultural Institutions & Cultural Landscapes’.
Notions of art as representing civilization will be related to histories of civic humanism within western culture. This model of high culture will be contrasted with the cultures of leisure, tourism and commerce that surround the museum. Readings will offer models of the kind of spectatorial experience generated in the museum.
- Lecture 4 (Afternoon): ‘The Art Market 1: SoHo as po-mo economy’.
A review of the recent history of the art market in Manhattan, with particular focus on the boom years of the late 1980s. The structure of the art market, its methods of display and commerce, its audience and its cultures will be discussed. The development of the market for contemporary art in New York in the period after World War 2 will be reviewed. The fundamental structures of the market will be detailed (dealers, audiences, buyers) with attention being given to the shifting hierarchies of taste and value within them. Particular attention will be given to the ‘boom’ market of the 1980s and the suspicions of inflation, boosterism, and hype that accompanied it. The SoHo area of lower Manhattan will be used as a case study. SoHo will be discussed as symptomatic of a shift from modern to postmodern economies and urban spaces. SoHo’s passages from 19th century industrial manufacture, through late modernist economic decline, culminating in its revival as a postmodern economy of leisure, spectacle, and consumption will be traced. The central role of the visual arts industry in SoHo’s material and symbolic transformation into bohemian pleasure zone will be explored. Squeezed out of SoHo in the mid-1990s by rising real estate prices, commercial galleries have colonised the semi-industrial area of Chelsea (West 20s).
- Tutorial 4 (Afternoon): ‘The Art Market 1: SoHo as po-mo economy’.
Readings for this tutorial trace the spatial, architectural, economic, and cultural history of the SoHo district. We will review SoHo’s manufacturing history and its decline during New York’s post-war shift away from industry and towards a service economy. The colonisation of SoHo by artists from the late 1960s will be discussed, focussing on the ways that the use and meanings of buildings, streets, and communities changed. These changes will be framed by bureaucratic factors (zoning regulations), economic considerations (the property market), and discursive structures (the tradition of bohemianism in the arts). The dramatic resurgence in SoHo’s fortunes will be seen as symptomatic of the transition from manufacturing to leisure economy. The recent displacement of the arts industry from SoHo will also be discussed. The specific structures for the sale of contemporary art will be examined (forms of display and marketing, pricing, commission). The less tangible role of the dealer as cultural entrepreneur and mediator will be discussed. The conflict of dealers’ claims to altruism and the apparent avarice of the 1980s will considered.
Day 12: Wednesday 22 June: New York
- Lecture 5 (Morning): ‘Chelsea Inside the White Cube: Art Market 2’.
This session will explore the next stage in art’s renovation of New York’s urban geography, as well as considering the ‘museumification’ of the contemporary art space.
- Tutorial 5 (Morning): ‘Chelsea Inside the White Cube: Art Market 2’.
Having already explored the street geography of SoHo, and considered something of its industrial history, we will now compare Chelsea as a site for the display and marketing of a commodity that is simultaneously a product and information, will examine the physical layout of galleries and gallery buildings, and attempt to gauge the changed ambience of the new precinct. This site visit will explore the next stage in art’s renovation of New York’s urban geography, as well as considering the ‘museumification’ of the contemporary art space.
- Lecture 6 (Afternoon): ‘Alternative Spaces’.
The rise of the art market and the advent of public funding produced, in the early 1970s, an ambition towards alternative means of display. The alternative space bridged the gap between the studio and the gallery without succumbing to the temptations of commerce. Such, at least, was the theory. In practice, alternative spaces have had an intricate relationship with the mainstream, standing aloof from it while simultaneously rendering the new art ripe for assimilation. The development of institutions bridging the museum and the contemporary art space (geographically, architecturally and institutionally) will be reviewed, focusing on the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Institute for Art and Urban Resources (PS 1).
- Tutorial 6 (Afternoon): ‘Alternative Spaces’.
Readings focus on the alternative space as a component of the art scene’s colonisation of SoHo in the late 1960s. The philosophy of independence from market forces and from the geographic centres of the mainstream, uptown art scene will be reviewed. The philosophy of independence will be contrasted with the assimilation of the alternative space to the mainstream. The possibility that the alternative space has been institutionalised as point of entry to the mainstream will be considered.
Day 13: Thursday 23 June: New York
- Site Visit 8: P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens.
Opened in 1977, and newly renovated in 1997, the Institute of Contemporary Art at PS1 is the largest contemporary art facility in the world. Located in Queens and incorporating studios and exhibition spaces, PS1 represents contemporary efforts to negotiate a balance between museum, avant-garde and marketplace. www.ps1.org
Day 14: Friday 24 June: New York
- Lecture 7 (Afternoon): ‘The Museum and Contemporary Art’.
This lecture will review the history of the interaction of modern and contemporary art and the museum in New York. Beginning with the formation of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum prior to World War 2, the role of the museum in mediating between avant-garde art and a broader audience will be considered. The museum is a site positioned between the studio and the public, between the present and the past. Seminars readings focus on the museum as an ideological space and a system of knowledge. That is, the museum will be examined as an institution vetting and selecting art, constructing explanatory narratives, and guiding the visitor’s experience and understanding of art works. We will consider both what the museum includes and excludes, the paths it ordains and those it closes off. In addition we will examine changes in the museum wrought by recent shifts in patterns of cultural consumption (the blockbuster, the cultural tourist, the souvenir). The expansion of established museums into ‘franchised’ outlets will be examined.
- Tutorial 7 (Afternoon): ‘The Museum and Contemporary Art’.
Having visited both commercial art galleries and formal museums on site visits, this session will consider the ways in which contemporary art moves from the margins into the cultural mainstream. The conventional notion of contemporary art positions it outside the mainstream as a transgressive avant-garde. In Manhattan, however, contemporary art often quickly achieves ‘museum status’. We will explore what forms of selection, editing and display frame this transition.
Day 15: Saturday 25 June: New York
We continue our exploration of Chelsea galleries.
Day 16: Sunday 26 June: New York
Students are to gather resources for their research essays, utilizing NYC’s libraries. Students will be writing essay 1 and gathering material and notes for the larger essay 2.
Day 17: Monday 27 June: New York
- Lecture 8 (Morning): ‘Money and the Visual Arts: Art Market 3’.
The rise of the art market in the 1980s and its affiliation with the leisure-consumption industry (especially in the form of the ‘blockbuster’ exhibition) has led to a growth in corporate collecting and sponsorship of the visual arts. Such activities are a function of the prestige value of art but also the possibility that such prestige might be conferred on sponsors. In a culture with a long tradition of philanthropy, the affiliation of art and corporate sponsorship raises significant questions regarding the idea of democratic, public culture, the role of money in national cultural life and the ability of art to maintain the avant-garde notion of independence. This lecture will review the relationship between collectors, corporations and art; including sponsorship, patronage, and collecting. The rise of corporate sponsorship during the 1980s boom will be examined, along with the increasing reliance of museums on such patronage in the context of funding cuts. Concerns as to the influence of corporate patronage (censorship, middle-brow taste, avoidance of challenging work) will be reviewed.
- Tutorial 8 (Morning): ‘Money and the Visual Arts: Art Market 3’.
As a centre of collector and corporate activity, New York is a focal point of patronage. Readings will review the structures and activities of sponsorship, with particular attention given to what collectors, whether private or corporations, hope to gain from an involvement with art. Such questions reflect of prestige, and the forms of philanthropy in the age of late capital. Readings will relate to sites already visited and discussed in the course.
- Lecture 9 (Afternoon): ‘The Studio’.
The studio is often regarded as the inner sanctum of artistic practice, a private zone divorced from the public commerce of the art scene. But such is the contemporary artist’s self-consciousness about the relationship of private and public that the studio often figures in complex patterns of behaviour and production which reflect on the ideologies of the art world. We shall review orthodox notions of studio practice and their mutation into the conceptual, process and performance activities of recent years. This lecture will explore the mythology of the studio as site of creation contrasting it with the pragmatic conditions that frequently shape practice. The fate of the studio in the age of post-studio practice such as installation and performance will be discussed. The development of the studio-loft as a desired form of interior decor will be considered.
- Tutorial 9 (Afternoon): ‘The Studio’.
Readings for this tutorial focus on the studio as a site for practical operations and as a stylish model of urbane interior design. Readings also explore the inheritance of the workshop tradition and compare the studio to small business and light industrial operations.
Day 18: Tuesday 28 June: New York
- Site Visit 9 (Morning): Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met is NYC’s great, premier, much-loved museum of all periods of art, in particular Old Master art. This grand Museum, one of the world’s great museums, does superb temporary exhibitions, which we will see. The contemporary wing is very patchy. Why does the Met not devote more attention to contemporary art? www.metmuseum.org
Day 19: Wednesday 29 June: New York
- Lecture 10 and Tutorial 10 combined (Morning): ‘Art Criticism’.
Art criticism plays an important role in the circulation and mediation of contemporary art. Because the art market centres on Manhattan, the publishing apparatuses of art criticism also tend to be focused there. This session will take the form of a round table forum on the role of art criticism. Speakers may include editors and critics working on New York based art magazines. This will introduce students to the current forms of art criticism in America. We will discuss participants’ practices as critics, reflecting on methods of writing and analysis, and the relationship between writing and the business of art publishing. The readings are intended to introduce students to a variety of critical methods, from those rooted in 19th century traditions of taste and aestheticism through to those premised recent theory and politics. A broad range of positions are given, many relating to criticism in the daily press rather than specialist publications. General issues addressed will include the role of criticism, methods of analysis, the relation of criticism to the market, the impact of criticism on artists’ reputations. Concerns over the independence and integrity of art criticism in the context of the recent boom market will be discussed.
- Lecture 11 (Afternoon): ‘Public and Site-Specific Art’
Public art explicitly raises some of the perennial questions regarding contemporary art. Who is it for? What is the audience? Who funds it? To whom is the artist accountable? How does art participate in public life? Urban renewal has recently incorporated the visual arts as something contributing to the amenity of public space. At the same time, concerns over the displacement of population and renovation of older neighbourhoods have made some suspicious of art’s role. Recent controversies over the destruction of public art works have left many sceptical as to the possibility of a popular, public art.
- Tutorial 11 (Afternoon): ‘Public Art’.
We will ask what are the necessary forms that public art takes in NYC. What are the alternatives, if any? More recently New Yorkers have witnessed a new type of public art project, ephemeral but very dramatic.
Day 20: Thursday 30 June: New York
- Site Visit 10: Chelsea 3
- Site Visit: The Met Breuer
We continue our exploration of Chelsea galleries, focusing on the emerging area to the south of Chelsea, the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village.
We also visit the newly opened Met Breuer Museum.
Day 21: Friday 1 July: New York – Independence Day
- Site Visit 11 (Morning): Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum has a great collection and features major contemporary art exhibitions, but is rarely visited by tourists. Brooklyn is where many artists live; the city was colonized by artists in search of cheap studios in the late-1980s. Recently, a number of artist-run and independent galleries opened there, creating a new circuit, and acting as feeders to the SoHo/Chelsea economy. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org
Day 22: Saturday 2 July: New York
- Site-Visit 12 (Morning): Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (uptown).
The Guggenheim was founded as a museum of modern art, but has made a dramatic transition to a museum that is highly entrepreneurial and focused on contemporary art. It has also pioneered the idea of franchising itself and its brand around the world. The Guggenheim is located in a late modernist masterpiece built by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. www.guggenheim.org
Day 23: Sunday 3 July: New York
- Independent study day. No Scheduled activities
The next three days are allocated to permit study and writing-up of the first essay. Students are to gather resources for their larger second research essay, utilizing NYC’s libraries. Students may consider also planning their own side-trip to Washington D.C. or plan another overnight excursion.
Day 24: Monday 4 July: New York
Students are to gather resources for their independent research essay, utilizing NYC’s libraries. Students will be writing essay 1 and gathering material and notes for the larger essay 2.
Day 25: Tuesday 5 July: New York
- Independent study day. No scheduled activities.
Students are to gather resources for their independent research essays, utilizing NYC’s libraries. Students will be writing essay 1 and gathering material and notes for the larger essay 2.
Day 26: Wednesday 6 July: New York
- Site Visit 13 (Afternoon): Whitney Museum of American Art.
Consolidating earlier site visits and classes, we will visit a museum that collects and presents national contemporary art. In addition, we will consider the versions of American identity presented in the museum’s displays. www.whitney.org
Day 27: Thursday 7 July: New York
- Independent study day. No scheduled activities.
Students are to gather resources for their research essays, utilizing NYC’s libraries. Students will be writing essay 1 and gathering material and notes for the larger essay 2.
Day 28: Friday 8 July: New York
- Lecture 12 (Morning): ‘Curatorial Practices’.
The curator operates in a flexible and ambiguous position. On the one hand, the curator adopts the interpretative role of the critic; on the other, the institutional clout of the museum. At the same time, the curator must act as both connoisseur and publicity agent. This session will trace the rise of the curator in the post-war years, explore the varieties of curatorial positions available, and consider recent curatorial controversies.
- Tutorial 12 (Morning): ‘Curatorial Practices’
Readings for this tutorial focus on a case study of an individual curated exhibition, outlining the taste and intentions of the curator and the context within which these are articulated. The case study will be the curating of the 2006, the 2010 and the 2012 Whitney Biennials of American Art. The activities of the curator demonstrate the processes by which art makes the transition from studio, to exhibition space, to history. Responses to the curators’ activities demonstrate a range of expectations regarding the role and power of the curator.
- Combined Lecture and Tutorial 13 (Afternoon): ‘The Top Ten’
Discussion on NYC experience. Students will bring their Top Ten written summaries and slide presentations to class.
Day 29: Saturday 9 July: New York
Students will be writing essay 1 and gathering material and notes for the larger essay 2.
Day 30 Sunday 10 July: New York
- No scheduled activities.
- Submission of essay 1.
Day 31 Monday 11 July: Depart New York
Participants returning to Australia at the conclusion of the course will transfer to the airport for the return flight. You are scheduled to arrive back into Australia on Wednesday 13 July 2016.