nl en

Global Visions in Contemporary Art


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


In the Summer of 2015, the international contemporary art exhibition Global Imaginations was on show in the old factory building of De Meelfabriek in Leiden. It was organized under the auspices of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden and curated by a team of five art scholars, amongst whom Kitty Zijlmans. Twenty leading contemporary artists from all continents presented art works and art installations to share their vision on today’s globalized world – a fascinating reflection of actual themes and developments in the world that surrounds us. The exhibition included room-filling installations, video projections, sculptures and more; on the website, critical and framing essays were published – a still ongoing project. A good twenty years earlier, the South-African born and at that time UK based artist and lecturer Gavin Jantjes organized the symposium ‘A New Internationalism’ at the Tate Gallery in London in April 1994. This was the first one of the newly founded INIVA, Institute of International Visual Art, and discussed the notion of ‘international’ in contemporary art practice and discourse at the closing of the millennium. Question such as: what does ‘international’, and for that matter, ‘global’ mean? What is this ‘new internationalism’? Who is in- and excluded? What is inclusiveness? The publication Global Visons. Towards a New Internationalism in the Visual Arts (1994), edited by art critic Jean Fisher, brings together the papers of the symposium by a number of foremost thinkers and practitioners in the visuals arts from around the world, challenging notions of internationalism and the problems of defining visual culture within national and international parameters.

In this course we will investigate how the debate around nationalism, internationalism, transnationalism and globalism in contemporary art, art exhibitions and discourse has created a discursive space and spurred new perspectives. Our subject matter will be art projects and practices, major exhibitions such as e/g The Global Contemporary (Karlsruhe 2011-12) and theory. The volume Global Visions will be the starting point for our investigation and will be carefully read and assessed. From there, we will identify key issues and debate and broaden our horizon.

Course objectives

Concise description of the course objectives formulated in terms of knowledge, insight and skills students will have acquired at the end of the course. The relationship between these objectives and achievement levels for the programme should be evident.

  • acquiring knowledge of and insight in the debate revolving around contemporary art and internationalism/globalism, identity and difference, as well as relevant theories and approaches;

  • learning how art and curatorial practices interact with and can be productive in exchange with theory and debate;

  • understanding how art practice and theory mutually challenge each other, and how this interchange stimulates an awareness of diverse positions and a different take on art and within national and international contexts;

  • insight into the cultural and societal role and function of art in a globalized, interconnected world;

  • analyzing works of art, curatorial practices and theoretical positions, and presenting the results of these analyses in oral presentations and academic papers.


The timetable is available on the Master Arts and Culture website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar;

  • Excursion to relevant exhibition.

Course Load

  • Seminars: 3 hours per week x 12 weeks: 36 hours;

  • Working on Wiki/discussion board 24 hours (ca. 2 hrs per week);

  • Studying compulsory readings for seminars: 80 hours;

  • Preparing oral presentation: 30 hours (of which the symposium takes 10 hrs);

  • Midterm assignment on the basis of the glossary 30 hours;

  • Writing of final course paper: 80 hours (re-reading texts, collecting research material, searching and reading additional literature, composing and writing of paper).

Assessment method


  • The seminar is a 3 hours a week course, in which students give presentations, participate in discussions, reflect on the issues discussed, collaborate in assignments, write papers (mid-term and final paper);

  • We will jointly make Wiki on key concepts to collectively produce a frame of reference;

  • The seminar will be concluded with a one-day symposium in which, in small groups, the students will present a theme/topic of their mutual interest;

  • Excursion to relevant exhibition;

  • Abstract, oral presentation.

ResMa students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (7000 words including bibliography instead of 5000 words).


  • Midterm assignment (30 %)
    (MA students 1.500, ResMA 2.000 words excl. bibliography)

  • Work on Wiki/discussion board (10%)

  • Symposium and final paper (60%)
    (final paper: MA students 4.000, ResMA students 5.000 words excl. bibliography).

Both the midterm assignment and the final paper need to be a pass.


In case of an unsatisfactory grade, the paper(s) needs to be reworked.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • information

  • course materials

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.
Assigned Literature:
Jean Fisher (ed.), Global Visons. Towards a New Internationalism in the Visual Arts. London: Kala/INIVA 1994.

Further reading:

Jill H. Casid, Aruna D’Souza (eds.), Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn. Williamstown (Mass.): Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (distributed by Yale U Press, New Haven and London), 2014

António Pinto Ribereiro (ed.), The Urgency of Theory. Manchester: Carcanet and Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian 2007

And further to be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher Prof. Dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans

Administrations Office Huizinga