Lecture series

Elena Chestnova:
Bodies, Interiors and Origins of Art: National Artefacts in the Theory of Gottfried Semper

Lecture Series Architecture as Living Matter

This talk will focus on the discursive entwinement between bodies and artefacts in the theory of Gottfried Semper. It will shed light on the ways in which Semper labels specific aspects of material culture as belonging to national and ethnic groups. In doing this, it will draw on the manuscripts written between 1848 and 1860, which form part of the drafts of Semper’s magnum opus Der Stil, including the Kunstformenlehre – a document that was until recently thought lost, and which remains little-examined in scholarship. The talk will explore how Semper shifted from locating the origins of art in the artefacts of the domestic interior to identifying it with bodily adornment and present the ways in which Semper asserts a proximity between bodies and things.

Dr. Elena Chestnova is a scholar at the Institute for History and Theory of Art and Architecture of the Academy of Architecture Mendrisio (Università della Svizzera italiana). She has completed her PhD in Mendrisio in 2017 after studying architecture at the University of Cambridge and ETH Zurich. Her thesis was awarded the Theodor Fischer Prize of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich in 2018. An extended version of this research is due to be published in June 2022 with Routledge as Material Theories: Locating Artefacts and People in Gottfried Semper's Writings. Her current research interests include domesticity and migration in the 19th century, popular lectures on art, national discourses of art, and digital humanities. Alongside her research and teaching she also works in the role of the project manager for digital humanities at the large digital edition of Gottfried Semper’s manuscripts funded by the Swiss National Science foundation.


Elena Chestnova, Material Theories. Locating Artefacts and People in Gottfried Semper's Writings, London/New York 2020


22 June 2022, 6:00pm

This event will take place online.

To participate online please register in advance via Zoom: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEvce6trzwpH9UDaRZSLqDZD1h4oJWFzSCh

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