discourse on sculpture graduate seminar

Sculpture offers the widest and most complex view of art making precisely because it is a discipline based on the material conditions of reality.  Contemporary art discourse today is rooted in the trans-historical and interdisciplinary production of sculpture that encompass permanent and ephemeral materials, articulate meaning through systems and language and negotiate subjects/objects location in spaces.  Due to the expansion in the field of sculpture, the discourse continues to develop contextually specific responses to people, structures, places and things, all of which amount to larger exploration of world making and how artists will work in the changing landscape and time of the anthropocene. 


course requiremements

This 3 credit  seminar has a weekly course load of 3 in-class hours and 3 hours of independent  work.  Students are expected to complete assigned readings, write two texts, and present 3 lectures. Please come ready to discuss reading topics with a written 1 pg synopsis of texts and three relevant questions to present to the class for discussion.  Assessment is based on student participation in roundtable discussions and studio class critiques.  At the conclusion of the class, all writings and work documentation are due by email, saved in a zip file (Year_5002_last name) to mtuazon@saic.edu.

assignments by deadlines

WEEK 1: 5 min artist presentation introducing work to the class.

WEEK 2-7: 10 min presentation related to readings.

WEEK 7-12: Artwork & 1 pg artist statement due for class critique. 

WEEK 13: Due in PRINT 4-5 pg writing on artistic research, references and cultural context of work 

WEEK 14: 12 minute Artist as Autodidact lecture based on writing.

WEEK 15:  Student documentation on work due.

rules & rituals

Class has a true start of 1:05PM.  We discuss readings for 1.5 hours with a 15 minute break between readings, followed by critique exercises and visiting artists.

This is a face to face encounter with your peers, NO cellular phones.

3 Absences without notice will result in an automatic non credit.  Last date for withdrawal is MARCH 30th.


reading topics

1. Disciplinary History and Aesthetics (Krauss)

2. Ideology and Material Conditions (Althusser, Arvatov)

3. Subjectivity in Space & Place (Morss)

4. Permanence & Ephemerality: Negotiating Subjectivity (Jameson, Caillois)

5. Objects: Commodity, Fetish and Thing (Groys, Stewart, Appadurai)

6. Systems: Ethics, Ecology & Circulation (Sofia & Bennett)

7. Systems of Language & Knowledge (Levi Bryant)

8. Labor and Practice (Verwoert, Agamben)



Readings and Class discussions assigned from week 2-8: 

Students will understand disciplinary history of  sculpture, aesthetic language and contemporary discourse.  Students show comprehension when they can describe and interpret texts, make references to historical concepts and theories and connect to current artistic practices, link complex perspectives from social, historical and cultural contexts to their own artistic work.  Students are evaluated not just on their ability to contest, but also ask questions that builds true inquiry and knowledge production.


Writing Synopsis based on readings assigned from week 2-8:

Students will develop critical thinking skills and are deemed intelligent when they can understand, interpret, interrogate historical models of thought with a contemporary reframing of stakes, formulate artistic responses by occupying a position in roundtable discussions of reading and propose viable artistic strategies in Labor and Practice section of the course.


Artist Statement, Writing and Lecture Presentation:

Students will gain communication skills through a rigorous practice of writing, public discourse and self presentation.  Students will be evaluated on their ability to present themselves coherently in public, in studio visits, and respond with a complex interpretation of cultural critiques.  The Artist as Autodidact Lecture assignment gives students the opportunity to collect, connect, and analyse the development of their own taste and interests against larger social and cultural contexts.  Students will be able develop their own language and method of presenting their work and artistic background.  Students are required to develop the ability to link research, communicate its relevance and present multiple frames of references that persuasively communicates value, meaning and interest to the audience when communicating publicly. 


Artistic Work:

Students will put theory into practice with a creative body of work.  Students show discipline when they are able to follow their aesthetic intentions and curiosity with a high level of intensity in the actualization of the work.  Students are expected to build momentum based on their initial exploration to advance thinking into the next stage of their artistic inquiry. Evident in their creative work is the ability to propose, innovate and evaluate aesthetic values towards more artistic and critical practices.



1:05pm True start.  

1:05-2:15pm Reading discussions.

2:15pm -15 minute break. 

2:30 Lecture presentation of artist works related to the reading and short critique exercises to apply our understanding of the text.

3:00pm - student presentations

NO laptops or cellphones allowed in class.

This is a face to face encounter with you peers.




Presentation of syllabus and course requirements. Students will present an 5 minute presentation of current work.

CLASS 2: sculpture & the indexical present

[Disciplinary History & Aesthetics]
Reading due for class discussion on Rosalind Krauss’ Sculpture in the Expanded Field & Notes on the Index Part 1.  Class discussion on marked sites, axiomatic structures and the index.  Class exercise on the process of critique with Teresa Margolles’ Limpieza. Collaborative student lectures based on presentations from class 2-8.


CLASS 3: on ideology & interpellation

[Systems: Ideology and Material Conditions]
Readings due for class discussion on Louis Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus and Boris Arvatov’s Everyday Life and the Culture of the Thing. Class discussion on subjectivity, ideology, artifacts as comrades and the unnamable, corporeal imagination of society.   Class exercise on the process of critique with Liz Magic Laser’s The Thought Leader and Brad Troemel’s Athletic Aesthetics.

CLASS 4: on the senses, affect & apathy

[Subjectivity in Space & Place] Readings due for class discussion on Susan Buck Morss’ Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin’s Essay Reconsidered.  Class discussion aisthetikos, anaesthetics and phantasmagoria. 3 Short Critiques


[Permanence & Ephemerality: Negotiating Subjectivity]
Readings due for class discussion on Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism and Consumer Society and Roger Caillois’ Legendary Psychasthenia.  Class discussion on mimesis, psychasthenia, and schizophrenia. 3 Short Critiques



[Objects: Commodity, Fetish and Thing] Readings due for class discussion on Susan Stewart’s Souvenir, Arjun Appadurai’s The Thing Itself and Boris Groys’ The Logic of Equal Aesthetic Rights.  Class discussion on narrative time and place, circulation and flat ontology. 3 Short Critiques


CLASS 7: the absolute dark promise & ethics in aesthetics

[Systems: Ethics, Ecology & Circulation] Readings due for discussion on Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, Vitality and Self-Interest and Zoe Sofia’s Container Technologies.  Class discussion on actants, non-identity, three ecologies, ethics of vital matter, phallocentrism of utensils, tools and objects.

CLASS 8: get real, object without a subject

[Systems of Language & Knowledge] Towards a Finally Subjectless Object. Class discussion on realism and anti-realist positions and the impact on of a de-centered subject on aesthetics.
3 Short Critiques

CLASS 9: 4 studio visits

1pg artist statements due by email before class and to be presented after critique.


CLASS 10: 4 studio visits

1pg artist statements due by email before class. 


CLASS 11: 4 studio visits

1pg artist statements due by email before class. 

CLASS 12: 4 studio visits

1pg artist statements due by email before class. 


[Labor and Practice]Reading due for class discussion on Jan Verwoert Exhaustion and Exuberance and Giorgio Agamben’s On Potentiality. Round table discussion on artistic strategies and challenges for contemporary art production.DUE in PRINT: 4-5 page writing on artistic research, references 


CLASS 14: artist as autodidact

Artist as Autodidact Presentation DUE: students will present a 12 min lecture framing the cultural context of their work, self-guided research necessary for the production of work and development of discourse around artistic pursuits of their own choice, making references to history and culture that they are critically and ethically intimate with, comparing and contrasting their position to the domination cultural context.

© 2017 LAN TUAZON.