Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices
Kunstgeschichte und ästhetische Praktiken
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Program directors: Hannah Baader and Gerhard Wolf
Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices. Kunstgeschichte und ästhetische Praktiken is a Berlin based research and fellowship program which questions and transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries in a transcultural, global horizon. By creating a space of dialogue for scholars from all continents, it discusses the potential and contours of a plural history of art.
The program invites annually up to ten scholars (postdoc) from Islamic, Asian, African, Australian, European art histories and those of the Americas and is also addressing neighboring disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and other fields dealing with the history of visual cultures. Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices analyses the connectivity of larger historical spaces and investigates artistic phenomena in a comparative approach, experimenting with new methodologies and forms of collaborative research. The concept of "aesthetic practices", introduced by the program, is an invitation to study artifacts with their biographies as well as processes of transfer and transformation in a transcultural, postcolonial and global perspective. This includes the dynamics of the production and perception of things, images and architectures from the time of their creation to their subsequent apprehensions up to the present, also including their display, storage, oppression, reworking or destruction.
With the study of "aesthetic practices", the program engages with sociological, gender specific, historical, legal, religious, technical, philological, linguistic, geographical, ecological questions or dimensions as well as those regarding the history of knowledge. It allows to understand artifacts as actors or participants in specific social and cultural dynamics. Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices is structured along four thematic lines: 1. Materiality and Techniques; 2. Mobility, Transfer and Translation; 3. Narratives and Display; 4. Site, Space and Environment. It thus aims to overcome the dichotomy of formal versus contextual approaches towards artifacts or constellations of objects. At the same time it promotes the concept of an art-historical ecology and embraces museum studies. Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices has no chronological or geographical constraints. Its scholarly environment is designed to enable and encourage both fellows and the wider community to experiment and refine transregional approaches to the history of visual cultures and aesthetic practices. The Berlin based program is designed as means of intensive collaboration between art historical and research institutions dealing with transcultural questions, in particular in the horizon of the debates accompanying the project of the Humboldt Forum. Among the facilities in Berlin Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices primarily cooperates with the Berlin State Museums, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry Berlin. Together with Monica Juneja and the Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context of Heidelberg University the Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices program initiated a three-part series of events, concerning the problem of languages and terminologies in a transregional history of art. Further cooperations involve the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris (Max Weber Institute). The activities of the group include regular meetings, museum visits, site specific workshops and an annual travelling seminar.