Home/ EXPLORATIONS IN CONCEPT AND MEDIA II (Archival Investigations)
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2VA1124

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Shefalee Jain

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: The course is only open to the MA Visual Art students

Aim: Explorations in Concept and media II (Archival Investigations) is a second semester course which introduces students to the idea of practice based research into the processes of knowledge production and canonisation through archives. The course makes a radical move in introducing students to the idea of an archive-in-making in contrast to an archive that is already made available by establishments such as the state, institutions and other repositories of knowledge. By linking research methodology to artistic practice the School of Culture and Creative Expressions hopes to reinvigorate contemporary art practice and to dislodge it from being geared solely toward a market economy and to reorient it toward critical and emancipatory practices. These concerns are seen as intimately linked with the rationale of the programme and the vision of the University as a whole which lay emphasis on critical reflection and contextualization of the self in relationship with larger structures and practices.

Course Outcomes: At the end of the course students will be able to

  • To understand archive based research as a method of art practice and to look at ways in which the concept of archives has been defined, examined, contested and reinvented by artists, philosophers and cultural theorists since early twentieth century.
  • To understand how and why art practitioners have made art using this modality.
  • To identify an archive to work with (archive in the widest sense of the term: personal, institutional, ephemeral and so on) related to the area of concern already identified in the first semester / or otherwise. And to create and display at least two art works as an outcome of this research.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Archives: Defined, examined, contested and reinvented. The module will be devised as a seminar around key texts on archives and how over the past years artists, philosophers and writers have conceptualized archives.

Critical reflection on archive based art practices by close reading and discussion of texts on specific works of art in the context of archives. The texts are discussed in the classroom in seminar mode. Students make group presentations. There is a panel of discussants and the rest of the class acts as respondents. The group discussions are peer reviewed.

Creation of two art works and their display in the context of archive based research as a mode of practice.The students are expected to make two displays, one mid semester and the other end semester. The mid semester display is to put to test some initial ideas based on prelimnary research and the feedback that the students receive is then taken forward in a full fledged end semester display.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Response papers and presentations: Students submit response papers and present these on specific readings after group discussions in the classroom for the same. 15%
  • Presentations of proposal for archive based investigation and consequent re workings. Students draft a proposal for the area of archive based research they are interested in. The proposal is discussed in the classroom with two mentors and the rest of the class and then given for revision. 15%
  • Research carried out and research material collated during the process of archive based investigation. Students are expected to collate their research in the form of images/materials/files/drawing plans/notes and make at least two presentations of this research. They also present this research in the viva at the end of the semester. 30%
  • Final work with a critical piece of writing. this is seen as a reflective essay on the work and research done during the semester. The students are encouraged to think of it as a possible part of their dissertation writing in the future and so are urged to take this reflection seriously. 25%
  • Routine interaction, curiosity and participation/attendance 15%


Reading List:

  • Merewether, C. (2006). The archive. London: Whitechapel Ventures Limited.
  • Cvetkovich, Ann, (2003). An Archive of Feelings : Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham :Duke University Press.