ARTH330-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Contemporary Art and the Material Turn

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course will examine the implication of the ‘material turn’ across a range of contemporary art practices, focusing in particular on the shift from modernist notions of specificity to the radical fracturing and opening up of practice that has taken place since the 1970s.

Lectures will be augmented by object-based tutorials and studio visits in which students will have the opportunity to engage in first-hand analysis of art works and the spaces in which they are made. Where appropriate, gallery visits will consider the way in which art institutions and spaces of display have impacted our understanding of medium and materiality.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have developed:
1.   An understanding of the complex material concerns of contemporary art practices, and the theoretical issues that frame them.
2.   An appreciation of biculturalism in Aotearoa as expressed in and shaped by the history of the visual arts
3.   The ability to undertake self-directed research, critically evaluate evidence and present well-reasoned arguments.
4.   The ability to analyse objects in terms of their material properties.
5.   The ability to problem-solve and work well in groups.
6.   An understanding of how to develop an exhibition concept.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from ARTH, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA or from the BFA.

Course Coordinator

Barbara Garrie


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Workshop Participation 25%
Research Essay 35%
Exhibition Project 40%

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

There is no set text. Readings will be posted on Learn and there is a list of useful texts in the course outline which are available from the UC Library.

(Image: Charlotte Watson, "Psyzygsm" 2011. University of Canterbury Art Collection.)

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All ARTH330 Occurrences

  • ARTH330-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023