Streets, Routes, Methods I: Reflections on Paths, Spaces and Temporalities
A cooperation of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institute and eikones - NCCR Iconic Criticism, University of Basel
Organized by Hannah Baader, Adam Jasper, Stefan Neuner, Gerald Wildgruber and Gerhard Wolf
Paths can be serpentine, straight and anything in between; they might traverse barely accessible mountains, like the Inca Trail, or be straight, like desire lines. Paths come before roads, survive into the time of roads, or reappear in response to them. Paths tend to be overgrown, to disappear—in the desert sand—to be overbuilt or abandoned. They have their temporalities, seasons and spatialities, between proximity and distance. Paths are therefore not purely spatial affairs. Paths have a genuine temporal dimension beyond the duration of a traveler’s journey. Paths can be seen as chronotopoi, with literary, pictorial and cinematographic histories. Paths must be trodden in order to survive, exemplifying the Heraclitian formula μεταβάλλον ἀναπαύεται ('it is in changing that things find repose'). The temporal dimension of paths ultimately allows us to overcome the sterile dichotomy between real and imagined paths (metaphors, allegories, models). They have a rich life in the world of metaphors, intrinsic to the notion of met-hodos, based on the Greek word for way, or path. This allies paths to language and, more specifically, writing, whose elements are also repetitions, tracks that are 'inked in'. It is the remembered, the described, and thereby the reusable and transferable path. Paths within language can become ritual tools for the creation of new ones.
Beyond the above mentioned approaches to paths, the conference will explore their relationship to the environment, in line with the eco-art historical project at the KHI. How do paths, trails and routes shape or even create landscape? What is the interplay of geomorphology, flora and fauna, animal and human agency? Paths introduce directionalities, itineraries and nets into the environment, they are linked to technologies of transport and movement; they offer viewpoints, changing horizons or deep immersion into flora or architecture; experiencing them is a multisensorial endeavor. Under the hodological conditions of global urban environments and post/industrial landscapes, paths run across streets, they can be subversive, democratic or pragmatic. They can be reinstalled as nostalgic evocations of a lost or overcome past, of rural or pastoral life, or serve mass tourism as well as new ecological approaches.
With contributions by Himanshu Burte, Gérard Chouin, Nuno Grancho, Fabian Horn, Maia Mania, J. Dorand Matory, Marco Musillo, João Carlos Nara Jr., Catalina Ospina, Francesco Pellizzi, Bas Princen, Antonieta Reis Leite, Lutz Robbers, Joseph Rykwert, Velizar Sadovski, Martin Thiering, Pathmini Ukwattage, Philip Ursprung und John Xaviers.