Course Syllabus

Nordic Contemporary Art

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2024 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Discipline:

Art History

Faculty Member:

Robert Stasinski (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Time & Place:

Thursdays, 10.05 - 13.00, Room 1C-505

Course Description

This course focuses on current trends and dynamics of regional identity in contemporary art, its wider history, and connections to the international art scene. The Stockholm art scene is our entry-point to analyze individual artworks, exhibitions and texts. Contemporary art has been subject to a big tranformation process since the 1980s, which have created interest in identity, politics, gender and post-­colonial theory, technological, social and other developments. The course considers the regional specificities of the Nordic countries, as well as some of the self-reflexive conceptual approaches that characterize post-1960s art practices.

Learning Objectives

  • To gain knowledge of the primary manifestations of Nordic Contemporary Art
  • To acquire the ability to formally analyze and discuss individual artworks and their related historical and cultural parameters
  • To enable students to critically evaluate the content and contexts of artistic practice
  • To utilize museums and art galleries in Stockholm as sites for knowledge and learning
  • To develop written and oral skills that enable the student to discuss and analyse specific artworks and wider themes
  • To develop your own artistic work, based on a method of urban exploration and experimentation 


Robert Stasinski (b 1980) has worked as an artist, critic, magazine editor, author and curator for over twenty years. He is the Editor-in-chief of Konstnären Magazine and previously Nu-E – The Nordic Art Review, as well as the author of several books including Felix Gmelin – The Aging Revolution, (2006), The Synthetic Supernatural, (2011), The Board Room, (2016) and Soli Deo Gloria (2017). He is currently Course leader in Arts Management and Law at the International Master Program in Curating at Stockholm University. He has lectured on topics such as Artificial Intelligence Art, Arts Management, Cultural Policy, Neuroaesthetics and Body Image/Body Politics at Stockholm University, Akademi Valand, Linköping University, Nordic Summer University, Lithuania, Konstfack, KTH, Färgfabriken, IBM Sweden, Moderna Museet, The Stockholm School of Economics, among others.

Reading List

Bishop, Claire (2014).  Radical Museology: Or, What is "Contemporary" in Museums of Contemporary Art?, Cologne: Walther König. Handout/PDF.

Bosse, Laurence and Obrist, Hans-Ulrich (eds.) (1998). Nuit Blance, Scenes Nordiques: Les Annees 90. Handout/PDF

Bourriaud, Nicolas (2002). Relational aesthetics. Dijon: Presses du réel. Handout/PDF

Danto, Arthur Coleman (1981). The transfiguration of the commonplace: a philosophy of art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press. Handout/PDF

Doherty, Claire (ed.)  (2015). Out of Time. Out of Place: Public Art (Now). London: Art/Books. 

Guillet de Monthoux, Pierre (2012). Organizing Reality Machines: Artepreneurs and the new aesthetic enlightenment. Handout/PDF

Kwon, Miwon (2002). Chapter 1: GENEALOGY OF SITE SPECIFICITY, in One place after another: site-specific art and locational identity. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Handout/PDF

Ljungberg, Joa, Malm, Lena, Mostyn, Santiago & Pousette, Johan (red.) (2018). In & beyond Sweden: journeys through an art scene. Stockholm: Art and Theory Publishing. Handout/PDF

Manen, Marti & Klontz, Anne (2019). Momentum10: The Emotional Exhibition: Reader. Stockholm: Art and Theory. Handout/PDF

Ward, Ossian (2015). Ways of Looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art, London: Lawrence King Publishing.

N.B. Additional reading might be uploaded to Canvas during the semester.

Field Studies

The purpose of the field study sessions is to give students the opportunity to have a more extended visit to an art institution as well as to a contemporary artist's studio. More information on these will be provided in class.

Guest Lecturers

Please see the calendar.

Approach to Teaching

We will meet for 11 regular class sessions throughout the semester. The sessions will be a mixture of class discussions, student presentations, gallery and on-site visits, and lectures. Field studies to significant museums and contemporary exhibitions in Stockholm make up an essential part of this course.

Expectations of the Students

Students are expected to read the assigned literature and prepare for each class according to the given instructions. Student participation is expected in all of the different course formats: the lectures often involve time for discussion of a given issue; text and image seminars require the students to reflect on the course literature and artworks; and during field visits, students will actively engage with the visited institution, its exhibitions, collections, and program.


Students’ course work and participation in class will be evaluated on the basis of their use of the course literature, their ability to use artworks and artistic practices in independent ways and in terms of their active participation in class discussions. Well-executed home assignments that are delivered in a timely manner are expected. In general, evidence of critical and independent processing of the course material (literature, artworks, seminars, lectures, field trips) is highly evaluated.



 Oral presentation in class: Ways of Looking/TABULA Method


 Oral presentation in class: Swedish Art institution   


 Research poster/Urban exploratory project

 Reflective essay: How has your perception (of art) changed? (2 pages)


Participation, discussions and peer feedback 30%

Oral presentation in class: TABULA Method/Ways of Looking
A 10-minute slide presentation of one randomly assigned art project  Ways of Looking  (2015). This assignment is meant to be an opportunity to freely develop a relation to the tools and methods of the course as well as a deeper understanding of a particular artwork.

Oral presentation in class: Nordic Art Institution

A 7-8-minute slide presentation of one randomly assigned art institution that we might visit in the Stockholm area. You are expected to apply extensive critical research, and parts of the course and carry out a well-researched analysis of the artwork.

Reflective essay: How has your perception of art changed?

The essay (approx 2 pages) is meant to present your reflections on the concepts, experiences, and methods that have changed your perception of art in general and Nordic art, more specifically. Since each student brings individual experience and knowledge from different backgrounds, this assignment helps to develop your knowledge based on where you started and your particular experiences that have impacted your perception, interpretation and understanding of art.

Urban explorative art project/Research poster

For this assignment we use artistic and exploratory methods of urban gathering, looking, and collecting. The artwork that you will create can be made in virtually any form: performance, text, images, painting, sculpture, installation or other. The recommended medium is a poster, using collages, pens, markers and other media. This project aims to give a deeper understanding of the methods and challenges of engaging in contemporary artistic methods. 

All assessments and grading are based on the instructions – addressing the given topics, concerning course materials and teaching, within the requested length.


Participation, discussions and peer feedback

Expectations in class include various forms of active participation, feedback, and comments in order to contribute to discussions and conversations led by the teacher.

Detailed assignment descriptions will be made available on Assignments on Canvas and/or in class.

Policy on the Use of Electronic Devices in Class

Use of cellphones or computers will generally not be allowed in this class, unless specified in advance. You are expected to bring a pen and paper to the class for note taking.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due