Art History – Adaptation – Knowledge – Society (MATT)

The end of art history was first envisioned by Hans Belting Munich’s inaugural lecture in 1983. Belting later reconsidered his theory, but the creed of art history and its consciousness have not been affected. In recent decades, the demands of society, social inclusion, forms, communications, infrastructure, and the environment have changed several times, but the discipline of art history still uses the same methodology, it interprets the actualities by applying the same structures. Meanwhile, the social utility of traditional art historical research is questioned and its usability is thrown into doubt. Other fields of the humanities adopted new structures, approaches, new interdisciplinary areas. It seems as if in the discipline of art history, change is not enforced by the profession in the strict sense, but by the commissioners and those interested. The importance of art historians is also diminished by new employment practices, when professionals of information technology, communication, and museum education are more likely to be employed in museums or in the traditional places related to heritage conservation. As a sign of the crisis, university students often neglect art historical studies and focus their interest instead on art management and curatorial studies. Belting has envisioned the future of art history in a kind of science of the image / Bildwissenschaft, but traditional art historical practices can well be represented by new emerging professionals of the reformed higher educational system. One crucial question concerns the historical focus of art history. Can art history identify itself as a historical (backward looking) field of the humanities, reflecting mainly on history, in spite of the palpable interest in contemporary interpretation of events.

Creativity and the use of innovative approaches have been equally characteristic of art history, the preservation of cultural heritages and museology. As an initiative aiming at renewal, a one-day workshop will be organized. Its purpose is to provide a forum for innovative, progressive, proactive and even provocative ideas and approaches, presenting solutions that are appropriate responses to today’s challenges through their relevant contemporary approach.

Topic frame:

1. Image and image preservation. A work of art is not always merely a matter of what is seen or how it is viewed. Works of art can be a demonstration, a performance, and documentation – if the space and time of the work have been limited, or if the work of art has been destroyed altogether. How do museums adapt in their acquisition practices to technological advancements and social changes? During the canonization-process of the works, what new contemporary meanings are added, provoked by new circumstances and surpassing the traditional framework of art history? And what happens with objects outside the museums – Graffitis, tags, documents of festivals, performances, demonstrations, digital tools and mediums?

2. Monument, community, space use. Is there such a thing as a community monument, instead of or in addition to national monuments? What are the new challenges with respect to the protection of monuments caused by private “contemporary use” of public spaces? What are innovative solutions and what is the appropriate attitude to adopt towards contemporary renovations? What are the roles and limits of virtual reconstructions, their educational use, and how do they challenge traditional methods in monument conservation?

3. Museum and innovation. The post-museum is still one of the most commonly cited concepts of the museum in the theoretical discourse on museums. But what is beyond the post-museum? What are the characteristics of a future-oriented acquisition policy, what is behind the V&A’s Rapid Response Collecting? What potentials are there in the stronger cooperation between the external research into the museum world and the integration of partialities into the scientific research? What are potential future solutions for real-time online publication of archival materials, and what is the next step in the participatory museum concept?

4. Changes in the history of art history methodologies are also a question of shifts of focus lies. The modern-day equivalent of taking notes on index-cards is database construction, while image albums, popularizing articles will be replaced by the photo galleries and Wikipedia. Constructing databases exempts one from interpretation and transforms the research topic into dry data, while simultaneously democratizing the data itself. The democratization of scholarship takes place on the
pages of Wikipedia. But what is the future of new publications of data, essays and monographs? How will they be published, and on the basis of what, and for whom?

5. Knowledge-based society. What should be taught in public schools about the history of art and what should be taught outside the schools? Can the instruction of art history be transformed at the university level? What new educational models would be appropriate at the secondary school level or in postsecondary education? How can the transfer of knowledge be adapted to the changed social, scholarly and technological contexts?

Presentations are in “TED -style”. If you wish to share your vision, your ongoing research or recent scholarly findings, we encourage you to join us for the workshop! Prepare a presentation of no more than 15 minutes in length. Send us an outline by 20 April: centrart@gmail.com, dragon.zoltan@me.com, szekely.miklos@gmail.com. We will compile the program by the end of April and then reply to participants. Info on broadcasting will be provided later.

Regarding the application, there are no formal criteria: you can send short abstracts, portfolios, presentations, etc. The point is to see what questions or problems you are interested in and whether you are aware of the theoretical background, and also to give you a chance to outline your conception clearly. Be sure to write a few lines about yourself and to provide us with your contact details. The conference will be broadcast online and recorded, and the recording will be made publicly available via video-sharing. Speakers from abroad are welcome to join the event virtually and also to hold presentations via online communication mediums (skype, google hangout, etc).

We invite you to join us as a speaker or participant for the MATT in Budapest on 20 June, 2014!

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