Otis College of Art and Design
Liberal Arts & Sciences
This course explores the ethical, aesthetic and political significance of practices, positions, and theories connected to health in contemporary art. In an era of fitness programs, increasing antidepressant usage, nutrition counseling and health-management apps, wellness is one of the defining issues of contemporary life, dictating every intimate aspect of our lives. Historically, art has been entwined with the values of medicine, beauty, and the productive body that have defined western scientific paradigms; contemporary artists are increasingly confronting and reshaping these ideologies, critically tackling illness and impairment in their practice while challenging ableist institutional dynamics. In this course, we examine artists, curators, writers, and thinkers who engage with the ways the vulnerability of our bodies reveals structural aspects of our societies. At a moment at which epidemics and global warming menace all forms of life, we see clearly how health intersects with sexuality, ethnicity, gender, class, and coloniality. By reclaiming other realities, beyond a state of health as a norm, this class questions the myths, stigmas, and cultural attitudes that shape normative perceptions, revealing the interdependence of our entangled existences.