Art as Research

In this class we will make in multiple media, such as photography, video, text, sculpture, and drawing prompted by Princeton University’s vast archives and collections. We will look at and think about art works that tell alternate histories by excavating archives, artists who work through various visual media to probe the politics of flower arrangements, the history of hip hop, to re-arrange museum collections and private photography collections from the middle east, artists who speculate and build possible stories through obscure artifacts such as private letters and merchandize receipts, and much, much more.

Over the past fifty years, visual artists have taken up the process and methods of academic research as an impetus for works of art. Through studio projects, readings, discussions, and case studies, students in this class will engage the immediate context of the University as source material for their artworks as a means to explore the effect that research and knowledge production might have on contemporary artistic practice. We will work in multiple media while thinking about archives, artifacts, traces, collective and cultural memory, public monuments, alternate understandings of history and canons. How does art produce knowledge compared to other disciplines, and how do artists and researchers use similar source material to different ends? What role does fiction have in a research based practice?

Fred Wilson "Colonial Collection", 1990

Fred Wilson “Colonial Collection”, 1990













Sample reading list:
Rike Frank, When Forms Start Talking: On Lecture Performance
Boris Groys, Art in the Age of Biopolitics: Artwork to Art Documentation
Walter Benjamin, The Story Teller
Alan Sekula, The Body and the Archive
Akram Zataari, Photographic Documents, Excavation as Art
Hal Foster, The Archival Impulse

Reading/Writing assignments:
An individual research based project TBD at the end of the semester. A presentation of a case study of a research related art project. Five short assignments exploring forms of research, document, and artifact.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Not Open to Freshmen. Any 200-level course offered by ART, CWR, DAN, MUS, THR, or VIS.




Wednesday, 1:30 - 4:20 p.m.


Fia Backström