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The Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory

Camera Atomica

July 08, 2015

Exhibition runs July 8 to Nov 15, 2015

Photographs have played a crucial role in shaping perceptions of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Camera Atomica — guest-curated by writer, curator and art historian John O'Brian — is the first substantial exhibition of nuclear photography to encompass the entire postwar period from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.

The election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 accompanied an intensification of the Cold War, and artists and photographers responded in large numbers to the escalating risk of a nuclear confrontation. The politics of the Cold War also coincided with a cultural debate around photography and its claims to represent what is “true” or “real.” Much post-1980 nuclear photography reflects altered understandings of the limitations of photography and the dangers of the nuclear arms race.

Camera Atomica addresses pressing issues in the post-war era  ... (more) »


PARTY BEUYS: or what comes after farce

July 09, 2015

Exhibition runs July 9 to Aug 14, 2015

It is to leaf through an old book: From Harz to Hellas all are cousins
~ Goethe Faust Book II
The tragedy of costume and implement is ultimately the history of human tragedy
~ Aby Warburg
Who’s your Daddy?
Warhol or Beuys?
Kiefer or Kelly?
Must we choose?
Any reference to an archetype real or imaginary is purely coincidental.  They have been banished from an oedipal world.  But does that mean we believe any less?  Given enough time and distance; little by little; the censor nods off.  The repressed return to the party.  Disguised as humor, satire or critical homage, the re-enchantment of the world occurs through barely veiled and often unconscious manifestations of cultic ritual.

Clearly we are not just dealing with the legacy of Joseph Beuys. The materials are different.  No copper, felt or fat this time around. It’s not  ... (more) »


Residual Noise: Works by Barrie Jones, Kate Henderson and Pascale Théorêt-Groulx

July 17, 2015

Exhibition runs July 17 - August 15, 2015

What remains of something when most is gone?
The work in the exhibition Residual Noise weaves together narratives that touch on notions of collective trauma, historical weight, and dogma through mediated imagery bringing into question the long lasting and immeasurable effects of conflict and distress.
In the work Berlin Project 1945-2013, Barrie Jones has photographed the scars left on architecture in Berlin dated back to the Second World War. Mostly patched, these surface tears from shrapnel and bullet holes act as a physical reminder of the conflict that threatened to destroy an entire generation. Jones points to an ordeal that continues to have political and social ramifications. His objective gaze recognizes a past, which is embodied in the surface of patched concrete and stone.
Kate Henderson’s series, Disintegrations 1 – 40, is a collection of images  ... (more) »


About the Department


Art History and Visual Art were first taught at The University of British Columbia when noted Canadian painter, B.C. Binning, was appointed to the faculty of the newly-formed School of Architecture. The Department of Fine Arts was established as an independent department within the Faculty of Arts in 1955. Since its inception the Department has grown steadily and now includes 23 full-time members of faculty (13 art historians and 10 visual artists). In 2001, the Department changed its name from Fine Arts to the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory to better to encapsulate the innovative teaching and interdisciplinary research interests of the faculty.

The Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory comprises three streams of research-based learning and practice: Art History, with a particular focus on theoretical and critical discourses concerning the social impact of art and visual representation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; Critical and Curatorial Studies, examining through research and exhibition projects issues in contemporary visual culture and display; and Visual Art, with an undergraduate curriculum placing art production, academic learning and a graduate emphasis on preparation for participation in the field of contemporary international art.

The Department’s faculty are actively involved in research and bring this strength into their teaching at all levels. Undergraduate and graduate seminars enhance student experience in advanced academic research and practice. As a result many of our graduates have established distinguished careers in the creative, scholarly and gallery fields.

The main goal of Art History, Visual Art and Theory is to foster critical and reflexive thinking within an inclusive and supportive environment. The Department thus maintains the highest standards of intellectual and administrative practice, seeking to be innovative in pedagogy and international in scholarly perspective.


Our Galleries

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery


The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery has an international reputation for its exhibitions, publications and projects in the area of contemporary art. Its collections and archives are an invaluable resource for scholars.

Visit the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery »


The AHVA Gallery


The mission of the AHVA Gallery is to promote research and discourse in the field of visual art by facilitating collaboration and experimentation within the department, the university, and the community. The gallery is dedicated to providing resources and opportunities to students, faculty and the community through exhibitions, public programs, and providing a venue to engage in dialogue.

Learn more about the AHVA Gallery »


AHVA Events


July 08, 2015

Camera Atomica
Exhibition runs July 8 to Nov 15, 2015  (more) »



July 09, 2015

PARTY BEUYS: or what comes after farce
Exhibition runs July 9 to Aug 14, 2015  (more) »



July 17, 2015

Residual Noise: Works by Barrie Jones, Kate Henderson and Pascale Théorêt-Groulx
Exhibition runs July 17 - August 15, 2015  (more) »



Featured Profile

Evan Lee
MFA in Visual Art degree, 2000

"Art is hard work. They (students) should be prepared to accept criticism, and consider artistic ideas that are different from their own."  (more) »