Course syllabus

Salt (2015), a still from a video projection work by Angela Tiatia.  Salt, a moving image projection work, features the artist in shadow slowly walking into an ocean. Shot in Technicolor, the aesthetic evokes a nostalgic cinematic pre-digital memory. The viewer watches on as a female silhouette form walks slowly into the sunset.

ARTHIST 217/317

Contemporary Pacific Art

SEMESTER 1, 2019

15 points

Course Convenor and Teacher:

Dr. Caroline Vercoe

Room 745 (7th Floor)

Arts 1/Humanities Building (206)

Course delivery format:

1 x 2 hour lecture per week Tuesdays 3-5pm (in 206 315) (Arts 1, Room 315)

1 tutorial per week

ARTHIST 217: Thursdays 1-2pm.  201E - 902 (Human Sciences - East, Room 902)

ARTHIST 317: Mondays 1-2pm.  104-G07 (Old Choral Hall, Room G07)

Tutorials begin in week 2.

Caroline's office hour:  Tuesday 1-2pm.  Or email me to make an alternate time. 

Well-being always comes first

We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.


Summary of Course Description

Pacific art and visual culture spans a rich and varied body of objects, dance forms, song, painting, and sculptural practices as well as adornment—both permanent and temporary, textiles, performance, and oral histories. It also encompasses the harnessing of digital media technologies as a means of creating new networks of communication and expression, and a crucial agent in maintaining and developing cultural traditions both in the homelands and diaspora. 

Contemporary Pacific artists explore and translate indigenous knowledge systems and urban experiences into gallery forms such as painting, sculpture, photography, installation and multimedia, as well as performance and digital art practices. 

This course focuses on how Pacific artists in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the wider Pacific and the diaspora, engage with and explore the economies, environments, and dynamics of the art gallery and museum systems.

Artists discussed in the course include Ani O’Neill, Angela Tiatia, Michel Tuffery, Tracey Moffatt, Fatu Feu’u, John Pule, Yuki Kihara and Janet Lilo. 

Themes include migration and diaspora, language and memory, notions of homelands and return, and the creation of complex cultural and gender identities. 

The course also provides an introduction to decolonial theory and non-western feminisms.

Assessment Summary:


One test valued at 20% and one essay valued at 30% and one two hour examination.

Your final grade consists of 50% coursework, 50% examination.


Two essays valued at 25% each and one two hour examination.

Your final grade consists of 50% coursework, 50% examination.

Recommended Reading:

Oxford Bibliographies Online (accessed through our Library website):

Caroline Vercoe.  Contemporary Pacific Art:

Susan Cochrane.  Arts of the Pacific Islands: 

Sean Mallon and Pandora Pereira, eds.  Pacific Art Niu Sila: The Pacific Dimension of Contemporary New Zealand Arts.  New Zealand: Te Papa Press, 2002.

Peter Brunt, Nicholas Thomas, eds.  Art in Oceania: A New History.  London: Thames and Hudson, 2012.

Susan Cochrane.  Beretara: Contemporary Pacific Art.  Noumea: Centre Culture Tjibaou, 2001.

Karen Stevenson.  The Frangipani is Dead: Contemporary Pacific Art in New Zealand 1985-2002.  New Zealand: Huia Press, 2008.

Ian McLean, ed.  How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art. Brisbane: IMA, 2011.

Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.



Course summary:

Date Details