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Summer School 2021

How artists confront times of social stress

Ian Aaronson, Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Medical University of South Carolina

This course will examine the work of four renowned artists living in societies traumatised by the aftermath of military defeat, institutionalised injustice or political oppression. For the German Anselm Kiefer born in 1945 in the smoldering ruins of his homeland, his art speaks to a collective responsibility for the horrors of the Hitler years. William Kentridge grew up in affluent Johannesburg during the apartheid years. For him redemption lies in the hands of each individual to take responsibility for their personal actions, both taken and not taken. For the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović the 1995 massacre of 8 000 Bosnian men and boys demanded redemptive physical acts of gut-wrenching power. Moral and physical courage are the hallmarks of the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose creations on a grand scale directly challenge the authoritarian regime.


  1. The art of Anselm Kiefer and William Kentridge
  2. The art of Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei
11–30 January 2021 (open registration)*

*The video of this course will be available on the Microsoft Teams platform for participants to view at a time convenient to them. Participants will be sent a link.