The Landscape in Our Bodies:
Earth, water, air, and fire
Summer 2011. Post-graduate level. 10 ECTS credits. Language: English.
Bárđardalur valley, North Iceland.
Enrolment deadline: TBA
Visual Art, Art Theory.
Aesthetics, Contemporary Art, Environmental Studies, History of Art, Landscape Theory, Phenomenology, Philosophy.
The course deals with the subject of Landscape, both as idea and experience, combining practical exploration and conceptual investigation with the interplay of art, theory and writing, in an original and interdisciplinary fashion.
Parting from the rather uncanny condemnation of Landscape as an outmoded genre or a sweet leftover of the Romantic tradition, the course sets out to investigate the complex relationship between humans and the natural world, as it appears in contemporary art practice and recent debates in art history and art theoretical circles.
Working through a wide range of ideas and images of nature, we will examine the historical and cultural context that drives the contemporary discussion on the subject of Landscape.
Taking stock of the pioneering ideas of French philosophers Gaston Bachelard and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the idea is to contrast the classical dualistic ontology of mind and body, with their holistic understanding of being, that is rooted in our corporeity, language, and perception.
With Bachelard’s groundbreaking psychoanalysis of the elements as a point of departure, we will work our way through Merleau-Ponty’s well-known phenomenological reflections on the fundamental role of perception in the understanding of being.
By focusing on identity, dreams, psychoanalysis and imagination, the course aims to raise awareness about the importance of creative involvement and bodily perceptions, in clarifying the apparently incoherent mixture of conceptual and somatic features in the concept of Landscape and its representations.
As an important adjunct to the course’s central topic, a field trip to the area surrounding Svartarkot is likely. This includes Lake Mývatn, to the north, with its exceptionally rich bird life and active volcanoes, and the rugged lava fields and deserts to the south, where the impressive glacier river Skjalfandafljot and its majestic waterfalls set their mark on the surroundings. In addition, participants are given the opportunity to enjoy a supplementary four-day excursion through the Icelandic highlands.
The course is designed for students who wish to investigate the relationship between contemporary art practice and innovative modalities of expression. Interdisciplinary in nature, it is designed to meet the needs of MA and MFA students of fine art, art history, art theory, art writing, curatorial studies, or the humanities. Experimental in approach, it is investigative and enquiring, and encourages a sensory as well as tangible examination of our environment that goes beyond the merely aesthetical reading of art and landscape, in order to examine the more complex and vexed relationship between humans and nature.
Students will gain a comprehensive insight into historical and theoretical discourses on the subject of Landscape. At the same time, they will acquire advanced knowledge of the phenomenological approaches to the study and practice of art, and apply this to their research in art creation and writing. In addition, the student’s ability to critically read, analyse and discuss contemporary philosophical debate will be assessed and improved, where necessary.
Visual artist Einar Garibaldi Eiriksson and art critic Olafur Gislason.
Colette Gaudin, “On Poetic Imagination and Reverie: Selections from Gaston Bachelard”, Spring Publications, 1988
Galen A. Johnson (Ed.), “The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader”, Northwestern University Press, 1994
Gaston Bachelard, “The Poetics of Reverie”, Beacon Press, 1971
Gaston Bachelard, “The Psychoanalysis of Fire”, Beacon Press, 1987
James Elkin and Rachel DeLue (Ed.), “Landscape Theory (The Art Seminar)”, Routledge, 2007
Jeffrey Kastner (Ed.), “Land & Environmental Art”, Phaidon Press, 2005
Malcolm Andrews, “Landscape and Western Art”, Oxford University Press, 1999
Martin Heidegger, “Poetry, Language, Thought”, Harper, 2001
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Phenomenology of Perception”, Routledge, 2002
William Cronon (Ed.), “Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature”, W.W. Norton & Co., 1996
Preliminary Schedule (subject to change)
To be announced.
Structure and Evaluation
Students are required to participate in group assignments, which will involve activity, discussion and presentation. Class participation in the form of debate and daily discussions (20%), presentation of research (20%), an essay of c. 12-16 pages (60%). Grading is awarded according to the decimal system on a scale of 0-10. A grade of 5 or higher is necessary to pass the course, and 10 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) will be awarded on its successful completion.
This supersedes the normal Framework of Svartárkot courses.
Our keynote speaker is Dr. James Elkins , a distinguished art historian and professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is an active lecturer whose extensive work is read and discussed by scholars and students across disciplinary boundaries all around the world. His leading humanistic researches include studies on Landscape theory and on the Limits of representation.
For specific information on this course and the Svartárkot program please send email to: email@example.com