With the participation of Xavier Antich, Manuel Asensi, Marcelo Expósito, Jordana Mendelson, Beatriz Preciado, Suely Rolnik, Neil Smith, George Yúdice, José Luis Falcó, Brian Holmes, David Harvey, Linda Williams, Manuel J. Borja-Villel, Joan Roca, Miren Etxezarreta, Enric Berenguer, Benjamin Buchloh, Judith Butler, Carlos Prieto, etc.

The Independent Studies Program (PEI) aims to explore the field of artistic practices that link art to the human sciences and to critical-social intervention. The Program seeks to enhance students' capacity to participate in professional activities and their ability to articulate a critical position in regards to art and culture. By understanding art as the product of a convergence of different systems, social fields and areas of knowledge, the Program intends to generate ideas and conceptions that challenge the framework established by the neo-liberal technocracy.

Because neo-liberal ideology has transformed education into a marginal or innocuous agent, the PEI attempts to re-politicize education. This re-politicization is linked to its own "teaching" task. It dares to question the institutional education found in universities, the mainstream media, and even in schools and museums (as well as in other institutions involved in the process) and demands a revision of predominant assumptions in teaching. The first assumption the Program takes a stand against is the division of knowledge as practiced in our social system. The PEI constructs new spaces for political education. As such, the PEI represents a place for experimentation with the relationship between the museum and the publics.

Museum studies. The PEI is a museum studies program with an international inclination. Based on the presumption that critical theory, education and the museum are inseparable vectors, it sets out to investigate all three fields. At a time when the institution has strengthened itself against the typical attacks of the avant-garde and the practices of institutional critique of the sixties and seventies, it now faces the need for redefinition with respect to the hegemony of consumption as the dominant thought in new cultural policies and industries since the eighties. In this context, the PEI understands that it is necessary to reconsider the meaning and significance of the museum as an institution rooted historically in an Enlightenment vision of popular education. Museum studies, therefore, is inseparable from the criticism of the processes of knowledge building and their policies.

Faced with the current proliferation of museums at the international level and with the predominant emphasis on management models whose effect is the hegemony of a notion of museums linked to mass entertainment industries, the PEI rejects notions of management and their techniques as the centre of the museum space. In contrast, it focuses on notions of discourse and education from a multidisciplinary perspective. Thus, the field of museum studies is indivisible from the criticism of knowledge production processes and their policies and is based on the confirmation of the museum's centrality in modern culture.

The PEI aims to foster critical professional activity in the field of art and cultural, activity capable of innovating and experimenting in both the institutional and the social space.

Program and subjects. The PEI structures art, art criticism, political action, gender technology and economic and urban sciences in a program that combines the different discursive lines that have been unfolding in the museum in recent years. Interconnected, mobile work spaces and a wide variety of activities constitute the Program.

The PEI is a two-year long program divided into seven subject areas, and includes a total of 480 hours divided among theoretical and practical classes and seminars. There will be a monographic workshop every two weeks in order to emphasize the continuity among the different disciplines.



Each year is divided into three academic periods:
› From mid-January to March
› From mid-April to June
› And from October to November

The academic structure of the Program is organized by terms. Each term is dedicated to one subject which consists of one or two classes per week, two seminars and a workshop, except in the case of "Critical Theories" which is considered a core subject of the PEI and is present throughout the entire two-year period, once or twice a week depending on the specific program of each term.

Thus, each term consists of:
› Two subjects offered on Thursdays and Fridays from 6 pm to 9 pm
› Two seminars from 12 noon to 3 pm, which may be concentrated in 2-3 days or taken over 5 days
› A 3-hour workshop every two weeks

Approximate hours per term
Class time: 48 / Seminars: 20 / Workshop: 12
Approximate total number of hours of the PEI in the 2008-2009 biennium: 480 hours


Critical theories. Constitutes the backbone of the program (it is part of all six terms) and addresses the different methodologies, metalanguages and tools which history has constructed to approach the institution of art.

Economy and culture. An introduction to the basic notions of economic science from a multidisciplinary perspective and based on a social understanding of the subject.

Gender technologies. Study of the complex theoretical legacy deriving from feminist studies, which today constitute one of the central themes of any analysis of visibility.

Strategies of desire. The convergences and divergences between spaces of artistic creativity and those of physiotherapy, critically overcoming the softer forms of constructing the artistic space discursively, not as a compensatory space of social deficiencies but rather as a space for radical otherness.

Political imagination. Explores the link between aesthetic activity and forms of political action, going beyond insufficient notions both of art as well as of politics.

Urban processes. The city is the public space second to none, and thus must be an object of study for any social intervention initiative from the field of art.

Art, visibility and representation. In this second edition, the Program has been broadened to encompass disciplines relating to visual culture, art history and cultural studies. This subject now covers a more extensive area for the study of art and visibility which, rather than being limited to the historiographic discourse, starts out from the understanding that the artistic field generates a specific form of knowledge and culture which needs to be addressed in a more profound, transversal and multidisciplinary way.


Art After Feminisms. After several decades during which different feminist theories and practices have highlighted the sexual and gender-related dimension of artistic practices, as well as the performative character of identity and the social nature and politically construction of sexes, therefore underlining the necessary visibility of artwork by "women" and "sexual minorities," it is time to take a leap forward and reflect on/rethink the implications of these feminist lessons in artistic practice and their politics of visibility.

Beyond the risk, evident in some recent exhibits, of substantializing feminism in art around artistic practices carried out by women (a dialectical phase which was, without a doubt, needed and is far from being over), perhaps the most urgent question today is a revision of the implications that, due to the whole set of artistic practices and their visibility in exhibition spaces, as well as their political implications, have come out of these decades of emergence and articulation of the feminist dimension of art.

The PEI 2008-2009 project aims to construct a space for research, analysis and reflection about the implications of recent feminist and queer theories in the field of artistic practices. This space, at once pedagogical and a place for research, coincides with other projects at the museum, like the creation of an archive of discursive and artistic feminist and queer practices as well as the preparation of an exhibition on the impact such practices have on contemporary art. This project stems from an awareness that the politicalization of art can not implicate the essencialization of a sort of political "gender" for art: analogously, it is the field of artistic practices that is questioned by the contributions of feminist and queer theories. Thus, this will be an opportunity to reconsider the role of institutional, pedagogical and exhibition-based critique, the place and the problematic politics of identities, bodies and subjectivation in art.

2008-2009 PROGRAM

FIRST TERM January-March 2008

Art, visibility and representation
Modern (photographic) documents
Coordination: Jordana Mendelson

Critical theories
Formalisms: from formalism to analytical aesthetics, phenomenology, structuralism and semiotics
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

SECOND TERM April-June 2008

Economy and culture
The privatization of culture
Coordination: George Yúdice

Critical theories
Marxisms and Neo-Marxisms
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

THIRD TERM September-December 2008

Urban processes
Revenge, revolt and reconstruction
Coordination: Neil Smith

Critical theories
New forms of subjectivation: public, public space and postcolonial theory
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

FOURTH TERM January-March 2009

Political imagination
Current debates in Factography
Coordination: Marcelo Expósito

Critical theories
Foucauldian strategies and deconstruction
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

FIFTH TERM April-June 2009

Gender technologies
Queer pedagogies: learning from the monsters
Coordination: Beatriz Preciado

Critical theories
Ginocepts and queercepts
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

SIXTH TERM September-December 2009

Strategies of desire
Art, politics and therapy
Coordination: Suely Rolnik

Critical theories
Art, psychoanalysis, schizoanalysis
Coordination: Manuel Asensi and Xavier Antich

Open program. In addition to the compulsory subjects, the PEI offers a series of activities in an open format that allows different methods of connection with the MACBA activities program. The activities in this format will be available to people and groups not enrolled in the official sessions, and will complement the acquisition of the credits necessary to complete the PEI academic course.

Open format activities include debates, seminars, workshops, audiovisual programs, lectures and so on.

Xavier Antich has a doctorate in Philosophy, is professor of Aesthetics and Director of the Master's degree in Communication and Art Criticism at the University of Girona. He won the Joan Fuster Essay Prize for the book entitled El rostre de l'altre. Passeig filosòfic per l'obra d'Emmanuel Lévinas, and the Espais a la Creación y a la Crítica de Arte Prize, an international award, for an essay about the artist Aureli Ruiz. He has published a book on the metaphysics of Aristotle (Introducción a la metafísica de Aristóteles) and several translations of contemporary philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Lévinas, Franco Rella and Chantal Mouffe. He is author of some eighty articles published in specialized journals and collective publications, basically on various questions of philosophy, aesthetics and contemporary art, and has written catalogue texts on the work of numerous contemporary artists. He forms part of the editorial board of the magazines L'espill (Valencia) and Trame (Venice), as well as of the cultural supplement Cultura/s of the newspaper La Vanguardia.

Manuel Asensi is professor of Literary Theory in the Philology Department of the University of Valencia and has been visiting professor in different universities in Europe and the United States. He is Director of the Humanities Collection of the publishers Editorial Tirant lo Blanch, as well as of Prosopopeya (revista de crítica contemporánea), which is published by the same publishers. He is a cultural critic for the supplement Cultura/s of the newspaper La Vanguardia. His field of research is basically that of literary theory and criticism, Spanish literature, film and art criticism. His publications include Historia de la teoría de la literatura (2 volumes) and Los años salvajes de la teoría (Philippe Sollers, Tel Quel y la génesis del post-estructuralismo francés).

Marcelo Expósito is currently professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cuenca and of the Elisava School in Barcelona. Between 2001 and 2006 he was co-editor of the magazine Brumaria, and currently collaborates with the editorial team on the transform project and the on-line magazine transversal ( He has published, individually or in conjunction with others, the books Plusvalías de la imagen; Chris Marker. Retorno a la inmemoria del cineasta; Modos de hacer. Arte crítico, esfera pública y acción directa; and Historias sin argumento. El cine de Pere Portabella. He has also participated in the research and publications of the Desacuerdos project. His work as an artist can be situated between theoretical practice, aesthetics and politics.

Jordana Mendelson is the author of Documenting Spain: Artists, Exhibition Culture, and the Modern Nation 1929-1939, and co-curator of the catalogue and exhibition Margaret Michaelis: Fotografía, vanguardia y política en la Barcelona de la República. Her essays on modern art and the history of photography have appeared in Modernism/modernity, Art Journal, Visual Resources, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Boletín de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza and DC Papeles. She is professor of the History of Art at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and curator of the exhibition Revistas y Guerra 1926-1939, presented in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in 2007.

Beatriz Preciado is a philosopher and queer activist. She teaches in several Spanish and foreign universities, including the Paris VIII University - Saint-Denis, France. She is author of the book entitled Manifiesto contra-sexual and of numerous articles published in magazines such as Multitudes, Eseté and Artecontexto, as well as in catalogues and collective publications, such as Airs de Paris and Cold War/Hot Houses. T yonki, a self-essay on transgender pharmaco-pornographic practices, and Vigilar y complacer: arquitectura y pornografía en las casas Playboy are forthcoming.

Suely Rolnik is a psychoanalyst, cultural critic and exhibition curator. She is a full professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, where she coordinates the Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Studies of Subjectivation, part of the postgraduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She sought exile in Paris from 1970 to 1979 where, in addition to her psychoanalytical training she obtained diplomas in philosophy, social sciences and psychology. The beginning of her relationship with Deleuze and Guattari dates back to this period, as does her friendship with Lygia Clark, whose work entitled Estruturação del Self was the subject of her thesis in France (1978), a subject she has continued working with ever since. Rolnik's main line of work is today's subjectivation policies, approached from a cross-disciplinary point of view which, in recent years, has concentrated on contemporary art and its political and clinical links. She is author, along with Felix Guattari, of the book Micropolítica. Cartografías del deseo published in Spanish.

Neil Smith was trained as a geographer and his research explores the broad intersection between space, nature, social theory and history. He teaches urban anthropology, cultural anthropology and environmental anthropology, and directs the Centre for Place, Culture, and Politics. His environmental work is largely theoretical, focusing on questions about nature production. His urban interests include long-term research on gentrification, including empirical work in North America and Europe and a series of theoretical papers emphasizing the importance of patterns of investment and disinvestment in the real estate market. His interests in social theory include political economy and Marxism and are based on his theoretical work on uneven development. He co-edits Society and Space and is a member of numerous editorial boards including those of Social Text and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.

George Yúdice is a professor in the American Studies Program and of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at New York University (NYU). He is Director of the NYU's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. His research interests include literature and art, cultural policies, globalization and transnational processes and he is an essential reference in cultural studies on Latin America. He is the author, of works such as El recurso de la cultura, Vicente Huidobro y la motivación del lenguaje poético, and Política cultural, with Toby Miller, and has co-edited, together with Jean Franco and Juan Flores, On Edge: the Crisis of Contemporary Latin American Culture.

MACBA Public Programs
pei [at] macba [dot] cat



Son[i]a #46. Manuel J. Borja-Villel about the PEI