Across the globe, the arts and culture have been identified as key instruments for urban rejuvenation and global competitiveness. Asia is no exception – over the last twenty years, there has been a proliferation of large-scale arts and cultural infrastructure, as well as an energetic bubbling of artist-led initiatives in cities such as Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Seoul.
This course aims to explore the growing and diversified roles of “arts” and “culture” in contemporary global urbanism, and to interrogate how categories such as “arts” and “culture” can transform cities. In particular, this course will focus on the changing conditions and challenges of the arts and culture in today’s global and urban landscape, with a focus on the role of Singapore in the Asian region during this time of rapid change, global complexity and increasing austerity.
Through an analysis of a range of real-world case studies and experiential learning, students will critically consider questions such as: What are the roles of arts and culture in cities today? Can the arts and culture become key drivers of urban growth, enabling cities to forge and maintain global connections? Do they differentiate cities, and generate distinctive placeidentities amidst a globalising world? How do art events and exhibitions like biennales influence cultural and city development, and give rise to more diverse, reflective and vibrant societies? Can the arts and culture create, reinforce and enhance sense of place and belonging in global cities, especially for the less privileged? What are some of the particularities and specificities of the arts within cities in the Asia-Pacific region?
Ultimately, this course aspires to provide students with a reflexive understanding of the unique arts ecologies in today’s global landscape, and a heightened appreciation of the significance of the arts to urban processes, practices and everyday life.
Students who complete this course should acquire the following course-specific skills :
- A critical appreciation of the significance and diversity of arts and culture in today’s global urbanised landscape, and a high-level understanding of specific arts and cultural texts, sites and practices.
- An advanced understanding of the ways in which the city has become centrally important for contemporary global cultures
- An inter-disciplinary comprehension of arts and cultural forms such as biennales, museums and festivals as they relate to different spaces and communities in global cities like Singapore
- A deep knowledge of the complex relationships between global processes and contemporary cultural changes in cities today, particularly within the context of Singapore
- Ability to analyse the differential impacts and dynamics of global flows on various strata of the local, regional, national and transnational communities
- A sound grasp of the major scholarly approaches to, and debates on, global urban cultures, and the ability to contextualise them in relation to specific instances and case studies.
- A detailed critical knowledge of the theoretical concepts of global urban cultures as shaped by the different conditions of modernities, postcolonialism, industrialisation, indigenisation, regionalism and global capitalism
OVERALL LEARNING OBJECTIVES
On completion of this course, students should acquire the following skills, attributes and outcomes:
- a better social, ethical and cultural understanding of self and others
- critical analysis and creative thinking skills; ability to access and synthesise knowledge
- information management and information literacy through the practice of library, media and ethnographic research
- the ability to effectively prepare and present their ideas in both verbal and written mode at a competent level
- increased capacity for teamwork, flexibility, cooperation and tolerance through group discussions and collaboration
- self-directional and organisational skills, with the ability to set goals and manage time and priorities
- receptiveness to new ideas, differing opinions and alternative perspectives, and adaptiveness of knowledge to new situations
- a willingness to explore, experiment and learn from mistakes
In order to facilitate learning, this course has been organised thematically into Three Blocks:
Block One will provide a conceptual framework and empirical backdrop so as to enable students to better understand and analyse the development, functions, impact and limitations of processes of globalisation and urbanisation on the arts and culture today. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the multifaceted character of global cities and the debates that they have engendered in relation to artistic and cultural production, consumption and management.
Block Two contextualises the role of arts and culture in global cities today, particularly within the context of Singapore. This block will explore the quest to use arts and culture for global city status by cities all across the globe, especially those from Asia including Singapore. It will examine the ambitions and projects undertaken by these cities, so as to better understand the conditions and stakes involved in utilising the arts and culture for global city imaging and branding. Students will encounter and analyse specific instances and real-life case studies from Singapore and other global cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney and London, so as to better understand the production, distribution and consumption of arts and culture in today’s globalised and urbanised landscape.
Block Three will re-think perceived notions of the identity, ideology and representation of global cities through ground-up and artist-initiated projects and spaces. Apart from exploring how artist-led interventions are fertile ground for new modes of artistic expression and cultural citizenship, students will also investigate whether and how processes of globalisation operate to create, maintain and deepen socio-cultural challenges and tensions such as inequality. This block will also shine the spotlight on the group projects, where the final weeks will be dedicated to workshopping, refining and presenting the project proposals.