Looting, Iconoclasm and Censorship
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1. Develop an understanding of the complexities of collecting, censorship and power in the visual arts in historical and contemporary contexts and the impact that this has on the cultures of the objects makers and custodians.
2. Expand on research, critical and reflective thinking and writing skills by evaluating key ideas and concepts.
3. Develop and strengthen an understanding and the capacity to engage with ethical debates and ideas that apply to collecting, ownership and censorship within historical and contemporary arts contexts.
- • The relationship between museums, theft of cultural heritage and colonialism
- • The case of the Elgin Marbles
- • The case of Nazi looting
- • The cases of terrorist destruction of cultural heritage
- • First Nations campaigns for restitution and repatriation of cultural heritage
- • How museums have changed in response to First Nations advocacy
- • How contemporary art contributes to the decolonising of museum collections
No eligibility requirements
No additional requirements
This subject focuses on the relationship between collecting, conflict and power by exploring a number of key case studies drawn from a Western cultural and historical context, such as the Elgin marbles and the widespread and systematic Nazi looting of cultural material, as well as the recent destruction of parts of the ancient cultural complex of Palmyra. It draws attention to the role art plays in conquest, imperialism and nation building and religious conflicts, which can lead to its destruction, or censorship. Students are encouraged to explore the wider ethical and legal context of acts of looting, collecting, destruction and theft. Complex issues of restitution will also be unpacked, in order to provide a broader context for understanding their creation, and the profound impact that severing this connection can have on those cultures. Students are directly introduced to the ethical, moral and legal issues around the circulation of art in the world, enabling deep appreciation of how we live in an inter connected world, being able to recognize the global context of concepts, act across cultures and boundaries and work with diverse communities.
- 2,000 word essay (50%)
- Class presentation 10 minutes (1,000 word equivalent) (25%)
- 1,000 word assignment (25%)