MRes Art: Exhibition Studies considers recent and important debates about modern and contemporary art in the context of exhibitions and public presentations of art. It enables you to explore key concepts and critical theories in a variety of fields with a focus on significant exhibitions from 1955 to today.
The first year offers teaching in research skills while engaging you in the specialist subject of your pathway. At the same time you'll prepare for a personally directed programme of study - your research project. In the second year you'll pursue and realise your project. Your progress is supported through tutorials and critical discussions, and monitored through written assignments and presentations. Your realised project is the principal assessed work leading to the MRes qualification.
Unit One - Exhibition Histories: Contemporary Art and Curatorship in the Public Sphere
Unit One runs concurrently with Unit Two and introduces you to the subject of exhibition histories through a series of lectures looking at specific exhibitions (including those covered by Afterall's 'Exhibition Histories' series) in relation to key developments in the history of contemporary art since documenta 1 in 1955.
Exhibition types studied typically include some of the following: documentas, major international biennales or multisite exhibitions, major group shows of contemporary art organised by museums, manifesto-like exhibitions organised by art centres and kunsthalles, and artist-initiated exhibitions.
You'll develop your learning particularly through the study of the exhibition format, looking in detail at a past or current single exhibition or a cluster of exhibitions of your choice. By compiling and writing a dossier or micro-history of these you'll address their historical role or influence, the initial curatorial intent, the processes of artistic production, the mediation by the institution and the reception by the public. This builds knowledge of the exhibition experience in the round, helping you to make judgments about the effects and possibilities offered by the exhibition framework.
Key considerations are local versus global positions, curatorial and artistic intentions and results, the effect of the exhibition format on artworks and their reception, and the assessment of historical significance of exhibitions.
By the end of this unit you'll have experience of the initial processes, components and key issues in exhibition studies and its relation to contemporary art history.
Unit Two - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies One)
This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.
Unit Two introduces the fundamental research skills that enable you to make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.
Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.
Unit Two is assessed by workshop assignments.
Unit Three - Critical Practices (Research Methodologies Two)
Building on the introduction to research provided by Unit Two, Unit Three - which is common to all three MRes Art pathways - increases your focus on in-depth understanding of research methods and how they're applied within the arts and humanities.
The unit aims to demonstrate the dynamic ways in which conceptual and theoretical frameworks can be developed through the application of research methodologies.
You're expected to relate your learning in this unit to preparation for your research project in the parallel part of Unit Four. Tutorial and workshop support helps you do this.
Unit Four - Independent Research Project (IRP)
Unit Four has two parts. Part One is undertaken in parallel with Unit Three in year one. Part Two is devoted to independent study and the development and completion of your research project in year two.
Part One focuses on the preparation of your research project proposal and the wider context in which exhibitions are produced. This involves directed reading or viewing of relevant theory and comparative approaches to exhibition studies in group tutorials in order to support the development of your research project. The process includes discussing texts on some of the following theoretical and political topics: theories of perception, aesthetics, architectural design, the history of art institutions, theories of artistic authorship, the history of the public, feminism, and theories of subjectivity.
Your research project proposal will be developed in the latter part of year one, in conjunction with your studies in Unit Three. In preparation for your research project you'll prepare a seminar presentation on an exhibition topic related to your proposed field of study. You'll also produce a literature review with an annotated bibliography or equivalent that supports your project proposal document. You'll explore issues of purpose, validity and feasibility in methodological and resource terms, negotiating external links, exchanges and access arrangements as required.
Your research project can focus on a single exhibition or group of related exhibitions that afford interesting comparisons, a complete institutional programme, or a broader subject-centred study. Further options can be discussed with tutors.
At the end of year one (weeks 28-30) your seminar paper and draft project proposal, including the literature review, are presented for interim (formative) assessment, and you receive written feedback confirming your plans and/or advising revisions.
All projects, including a commitment to the forms of your submission and appropriate ongoing supervision/tutorial arrangements, are agreed at the outset of year two.
A symposium shared across the MRes pathways presents and discusses all project proposals. Two international seminars with Afterall's European links are scheduled, one in the autumn and one in the summer.
A student-directed group event involving invited professionals takes place early in the spring term (prior to the PhD applications point). This event builds your professional skills and provides a discussion forum challenging you to recognise and debate key questions arising from your research project work to date.
Throughout the second year you lead interim presentations about your research, in person and online, discussing progress, challenges and findings, and issues of form, audience and dissemination.
A third event at the end of year two presenting your project outcomes aims to make visible potential contributions to new research in the area of exhibition studies, and to generate publication or other professional opportunities.
At the end of Unit Four you're assessed through presentation of your realised research project in the agreed forms, the project proposal document, and a report describing and evaluating changes and progress. Your marks for Units Three and Four determine the classification of your MRes award.