Pool 4: Art & Spectacle (gLV)

Spring 2023

Time: 09:00 - 17:00 o'clock

CW 11: 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 March

Interested students of other study programmes can register from 01 to 19 February 2023 by email to:

You will be informed until the end of calendar week 8 about a possible participation.
Applications before 01 February 2023 will not be accepted.

Universität / Haute École
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
Marie-France Rafael
Contact email
for student applications
Content description

The seminar starts from the observation of a resurgence of the spectacle in contemporary art. But what do we mean by spectacle in a visual art context? And are we facing a new form of spectacle brought about by the rise of digital technologies? The seminar will examine those questions by looking at the status “spectacle” holds within art history and criticism, because of its direct connection to questions of visuality. Furthermore, it will question the relation of spectacle, images, and society – as the spectacle is not just images, but, as Guy Debord states: “The spectacle is a social relationship between people mediated by images.”

According to art theorist Jonathan Crary, we are currently witnessing a “hyper-expansion of the logic of spectacle”. To verify this thesis, we will approach the concept of the spectacle from a genealogical perspective to get a better understanding of its evolution through time until today. The main analysis will be to see if and how the spectacle has changed since the 1960s, when Guy Debord conceptualized the term spectacle as “a world-view that has actually been materialized” or, in Marxist terminology, as a form of “alienation of late capitalism” to describe social relations under capitalism.

The course includes extensive readings (Guy Debord, Jean Baudrillard, Rosalind Krauss, James Meyer, Claire Bishop, Hal Foester, Boris Groys, McKenzie Wark among others) as well as analyses of chosen case studies from the field of visual arts (Anne Imhof, Bernadette Corporation, Young Girl Reading Group (YGRG), Alexandra Pirici, Amalia Ulman, or Raphaela Vogel among others).

A reader with texts accompanying the course will be made available.

About the lecturer:

Marie-France Rafael, holds a PhD in Art History. She studied Art History and Film Studies in Berlin and Paris. From 2011 to 2015 she was a research associate at the Free University of Berlin and until 2019 at the Muthesius University Kiel, Department of Spatial Strategies/Curatorial Spaces. Her monograph, “Reisen ins Imaginativ. Künstlerische Displays und Situationen” (Cologne: Walther König, 2017), was recently published. Other publications include “Brice Dellsperger. On Gender Performance” (Berlin: Floating Opery Press), “Ari Benjamin Meyers. Music on Display” (Cologne: Walther König, 2016), and “Pierre Huyghe. On Site” (Cologne: Walther König, 2013).


Course language: English

Learning Targets:

- Further knowledge on contemporary (art) theory and discourse
- This course will feature close readings of discursive texts as well as practical group assignments that will help students to reflect in a critical and creative manner their own artistic practice