Biennales, Triennales and Documentas

Subject AHIS90007 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours: 12 x 2 hour seminar per week throughout semester.
Total Time Commitment:



Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in art history, Master of Art Curatorship, Master of Cinema Management, Master of Arts & Cultural Management (Moving Image), Master of Arts in Art History (Advanced Seminar and Shorter Thesis).



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Charles Green

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the exhibition of contemporary art in international survey exhibitions since the 1960s, delineating the methods that curators and directors have tested in response to the needs of art museums, bureaucracies, artists and publics across a range of geographic settings. The subject will examine a sequence of exhibitions from Australia and overseas, including early, national pavilion-based Venice Biennales, the director-driven 1970s Documentas, the 1980s global circuit of Biennales (including Sydney's), the newer Asian biennales (including Brisbane's Asia-Pacific triennials), the commercial art fairs (Frieze and the New York Armory Show). The subject considers these exhibitions' impact on contemporary art, as well as the roles of sponsorship, philanthropy and exhibition directors.

Learning Outcomes:
  • have an understanding of key issues in the contemporary art curatorship and exhibition of international art;
  • be able to conduct independent curatorial research using catalogued sources and bibliographical indexes;
  • be familiar with the key issues in the curatorial practice of international contemporary art survey exhibitions such as Biennales, Triennales and Documentas;
  • be equipped with the relevant skills and methods to critically examine the different curatorial models of contemporary survey exhibitions;
  • have an overview of the history of Biennales, Triennales and Documentas within recent international art;
  • understand the role of recurring contemporary art survey exhibitions in preparation for a career in the industry;
  • gain an understanding of the selection policies of curators;
  • be able to understand the major theoretical and curatorial debates on international survey exhibitions, and be able to relate these to exhibitions in Australia; and
  • gain a knowledge of the changing nature of the installation and display of contemporary art.

A research essay of 2500 words 50% (due during the semester) and a take-home examination of 2500 words 50% (due in the examination period).

Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject and regular class participation is required.

All required written work must be submitted in order to pass the subject. Essays submitted after the due date without an extension will be penalised 2% per day. Essays submitted after two weeks of the assessment due date without a formally approved application for special consideration or an extension will only be marked on a pass/fail basis if accepted.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision; and
  • be able to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Management (Advanced)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Management
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Art Curatorship
100 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management - Moving Image Specialisation
150 Point Master of Art Curatorship
150 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management - Moving Image Specialisation
200 Point Master of Art Curatorship
200 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management
200 Point Master of Arts and Cultural Management - Moving Image specialisation
Art History
EMA 150 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 2 years
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Art History
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Art History
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Art History
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Art History
MA (AS&&ST) Art History
PC-ARTS Art History
PD-ARTS Art History

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