Connecting Art Histories in the Museum: Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe, 400-1900
Project directors | Hannah Baader, Gerhard Wolf, Michael Eissenhauer (SMB) and Jörg Völlnagel (SMB) in cooperation with Paola Ivanov (Ethnologisches Museum, SMB), Viola König (Ethnologisches Museum, SMB), Klaas Ruitenbeek (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, SMB), Lilla Russell-Smith (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, SMB), Stefan Weber (Museum für Islamische Kunst, SMB) and Moritz Wullen (Kunstbibliothek, SMB)
Connecting Art Histories in the Museum combines academic and museum research with curatorship. Set up as a joint project between the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums of Berlin), the innovative fellowship program focuses on artistic and cultural interactions in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe. Up to six outstanding international young art historians spend one to two years investigating artistic and cultural interactions of this region, based on the objects from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Additional emphasis is placed on the objects’ display in the museums.
The scholars study objects or groups of objects with the aim of fostering the dialogue between Western, Byzantine, Islamic, Asian and African art histories in the museums. Instead of concentrating exclusively on the objects’ place in the history of pre-modern art, the research program is concerned with the modern repercussions and relationship between diverse historical topographies. These dynamics are examined in the light of the following questions: How can art historical research deal with the transfer and exchange of moveable or immoveable cultural heritage? How did museums in the past articulate political and cultural attitudes towards historical sites of the production, accumulation, and translation of artifacts? And how do museums, especially new museums, do this today? How do museum displays evaluate and present the ritualistic and aesthetic dimensions of objects? What possible dynamics can be created by the constellations of objects in the museums that are alien to each other in provenance and historical context of consumption?
Museums play a key role in the ongoing redefinition of art and art history and their relation to aesthetics, anthropology, and politics in the decentralized, globalized twenty-first century. With their »universal« collections and ongoing remodellation, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin offer a unique opportunity for research using multidisciplinary approaches on artifacts from different cultures and civilizations.
International doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in art history and related disciplines can apply for the fellowship program. Fellows also have the chance to provide curatorial assistance on individual exhibitions, as well as contribute to the development of new concepts for exhibition practices. Through joint activities of the research group, such as seminars, workshops, excursions, and conferences, its interaction with the Art Histories and Aesthetic practices program the scholarly exchange and research collaboration both within and outside the museums have been optimally developed. A joint book series (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) presenting the results of the individual projects was started in 2014.
Sensate Art Histories: Challenges and New Perspectives
Sensate Art Histories is a working group of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Our aim is to interrogate and develop methodologies across time periods and geographies within the rapidly growing field of sensory studies. The projects in this framework adopt the lens of the senses to examine a range of material and aesthetic practices in a variety of media, from religious manuscripts to devotional objects, from sacred architecture to the literary magazine, and from contemporary sculpture to incense burners.
Lucy Jarman: Sensory Evocations in Christian Devotional Objects aims to investigate the role of the senses in the devotional practices of the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times. Qualities like material, media, iconography and scale suggest how the senses were utilised to create an intimate and emotionally-charged space experiencing the divine.
Subhashini Kaligotla: Medieval Indian Architecture and Somatic Experience, 500-800 CE is primarily interested in the following question. How did the material properties of the temple--its inscriptions, its interior and exterior spaces, its ornamentation, and its sculptural imagery--interact with, activate, and shape the multisensorial encounter with this holy space?
Alya Karame: The Qur'an in the Realm of the Senses approaches Qur'an manuscripts produced in the 11th century as amulets by uncovering their visual proximity to talismanic objects and their tactile dimension as described in contemporaneous texts.
Max Koss: Fin-de-siècle print culture and the politics of the senses takes as its point of departure the example of print culture to elucidate its role in the definition and shaping of a larger apparatus of the senses that is mobilized to fold in discourses of technological and socio-political progress with those of colonial expansion and exploitation.
Ning Yao: Ritual Smoke: Incense Burners and the Senses in Chinese Ritual Performances during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911) draws from contemporary paintings, woodblock prints and pictures with the depictions of incense burners that provide clues about the space, narrative of usage and olfactory, tactile aspects of incense burners in various worship rituals and daily use.