ARTH330-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022

Medium and Materiality in Contemporary Art

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 21 February 2022
End Date: Sunday, 26 June 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 6 March 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 15 May 2022


This course will examine medium and materiality across a range of contemporary art practices, focusing in particular on the shift from modernist notions of medium purity to the radical fracturing and opening up of medium that has taken place since the 1970s.

The course will begin by considering Clement Greenberg’s influential claims for medium specificity in Modern art before going on to discuss some of the expanded labels that have been used to describe aspects of contemporary practice, for example the ‘anti-form’ of post-minimalism, the ‘dematerialisation’ of conceptual art, and installation art as a ‘collection of mediums’.  Lectures and tutorials will ask questions about what constitutes a medium, and will consider the continued relevance of medium and materiality as discrete concepts used to describe aspects of contemporary art.

Lectures will be augmented by object-based tutorials and studio visits in which students will have the opportunity to engage in first-hand analysis of art works and the spaces in which they are made. Where appropriate, gallery visits will consider the way in which art institutions and spaces of display have impacted our understanding of medium and materiality.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course you will learn:
  •  A broad understanding of medium as a contested term in contemporary art that might variously refer to properties of convention, material support, technical process, institutional context.
  •  An understanding of the complex materiality of contemporary art practices and the theoretical issues that frame them.
  •  Of the critical debates surrounding notions of medium specificity and trans-disciplinarity in contemporary art.
  •  An ability to critically evaluate evidence and present well-reasoned arguments.
  •  An ability to analyse objects in terms of their material properties.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from ARTH, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA or from the BFA.

Recommended Preparation

ARTH215 International Contemporary Art

Course Coordinator

Barbara Garrie


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Workshop Participation 25%
Research Essay 35%
Exhibition Project 40%

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

There is no set text. Readings will be posted on Learn and there is a list of useful texts in the course outline which are available from the UC Library.

(Image: Charlotte Watson, "Psyzygsm" 2011. University of Canterbury Art Collection.)

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,597.00

International fee $7,200.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All ARTH330 Occurrences

  • ARTH330-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022