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Real-world issues about the arts

Real-world issues about the arts

These real-world issues about the arts will help you to explore knowledge questions, analyse the latest events and issues related to this AOK, and apply TOK terms, ideas, and concepts to authentic situations.

You can also use these issues as discussion points within lessons, examples to support your essay arguments, and case studies to show how TOK manifests in world around us in your exhibition commentary.

Real-world issues on the nature and scope of the arts

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A BBC article, looking at the winner of the 2021 Turner Prize – the Array Collective’s Irish pub installation.

A New Humanist interview with John-Paul Stonard, who talks about his new book tracing the evolution of art from cave paintings to the contemporary era. 

An Art Newspaper article, looking at the forthcoming auction of Banksy’s self-destructive painting. 

BBC article and video, featuring the hyper-realistic sculptures of Korean artist Xooang Choi.

Guardian article, looking at the sale of a painting created by a computer, for $432,000 at Christie’s.

BBC article and video, which tells the story of Yassin Mohammed, who spent 4 years in an Egyptian prison, and survived partly as a result of creating art. purpose of art?

Real-world issues on the relationship between the arts and values

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the arts and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for TOK
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Wired article, considering the ethics of drawing on historical atrocities to add emotional depth to modern movies. 

CNN video looking at Swiss artist Klaus Littmann’s ‘art intervention’ of 300 trees in a football stadium in Austria.

An Art Newspaper article looking at the installation by artist Christoph Büchel at the Venice Biennale, entitled ‘Barca Nostra’ which was the hull of a boat that sank in the Mediterranean, in which 700 migrants drowned. A first-order KQ could be, “What is the message of Büchel’s Barca Nostra?”

An Aeon article, looking at the work of Michael Rakowitz, who bases his work on looting colonial artefacts.

BBC video, exploring the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky, who travels the world trying to capture images of humanity’s impact on the earth.

New York Times article, considering the way Disney is remaking its films – and trying to make them more politically correct.

Real-world issues on the communication of ideas in the arts

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Big Think video, which explores the question, ‘What is propaganda’?

Writing for the BBC, Will Gompertz treats Banksy’s act of shredding his own painting, Girl with Balloon, as a work of art in itself, and rates it as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the century.

A National Geographic article, assessing the extent to which photography can help us to process and make sense of our present reality.

A Dazed article and video, discussing the recent sale of Salvatore Garau’s invisible work of art ‘Io Sono’, for €15,000.

Real-world issues on the arts, perspectives, and context

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

This History Today article looks at how art by Caspar David Friedrich – specifically, his ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ – has been viewed in a different way, according to the context of the society that looks at it.

A CNN article, exploring whether wrestling should be considered an art. 

An Art Newspaper article, thinking about the ‘second renaissance’ involving NFTs. 

A Guardian article, which considers what characteristics street art needs to have to qualify it as ‘legitimate’ art.

Real-world issues on the creation of new ideas in the arts

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A TechRadar article, looking at the ‘live’ return of the Swedish band, ABBA.

An Art Newspaper, considering the implications on the art world of Instagram’s new content control settings.

This Wired article looks at the work of artist Karen Palmer, who makes interactive videos that change according to your emotional reaction to them.

Big Think video, demonstrating how A.I. can now create fake videos of people from a single picture.

A Wired article, considering how the unregulated nature of NFTs makes it so hard to discern the originality of artworks.

A Conversation article, arguing that the development of ‘Swiss design’ in the 1950s owed much to ideas that came from Africa.

Real-world issues on becoming a discerning knower about the arts

  • These issues on the arts relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of the arts, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Guardian article, exploring the life, work, and influence of the artist Bridget Riley.

This BBC story looks at the work of Victor Vasarely, and the influence he had on the art – and non-art – world.

Wired article, focusing on Childish Gambino’s song, This is America, and asks whether critics are being supplanted by other sources of knowledge when it comes to assessing the merit and worth of music.

Guardian article, looking at the work of one of the world’s most accomplished art detectives, and how he decides whether a painting is a forgery or not.

An FT article that looks at the key characteristics of ‘iconic’ paintings. 

A New York Times article, which looks at the “greatest breakthrough in the history of 20th century art”.

Explore related events and issues

Investigating Issues offers you a completely new way to plan and teach TOK. The resource gathers together over 120 major global issues, provides a collection of media sources to explore each one, and suggests ways to link them to the different elements of the TOK course and to the 12 key concepts.

Unpack these issues & link them to TOK

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (updated every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking ideas, guidance on the key concepts, and other tips. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

Subscribe to the TOK newsletter

Our TOK newsletter helps you explore the most important events and issues going on today, and fully grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining theoryofknowledge.net.