Theories, Databases and Experimental Research Tools

Conference & Workshop
December 16, 2013
Presented by: AGI | Art, Globalization, Interculturality
Department of Art History, University of Barcelona
and Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris (INHA)


Under the umbrella of a three-year collaborative project between the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art-Paris (INHA), the research groups Art, Globalization, Interculturality (UB) and Arts et mondialisation (INHA) have organized a series of annual seminars entitled Documenting Global Art. Theories, Databases, and Experimental Researching Tools that have taken place in Barcelona through the years 2011 and 2012.

The third installment of Documenting Global Art in 2013 will focus on a critical approach to the archive as an epistemological technology for the production of knowledge in the context of postgraduate research. Evoking the concept of archive as developed by Michel Foucault (1969), the archive can be understood as a collection of the material traces left behind by a particular historical period or culture through its collection and systematization of statements and objects. As Foucault contends, the archive encompasses “all the systems that establish statements as singular events or things by defining their conditions and domains of appearance as well as their possibilities and fields of use” (1969, 171). Consequently, the configuration of the archive is the result of certain conditions of emergence for particular statements as determined through specific institutional practices and techniques.

In the context of global art, the archive of art and art history can be understood as a “willed fiction” whose goal is to constitute a “coherent ‘representational’ uni-verse” (Preziosi 1998: 521). The inclusion, exclusion, taxonomization, and visibilization of particular objects and documents over others implies that the art historical archive is more than a “passive storehouse or data bank” (Preziosi 1998: 517). It is, in fact, a critical instrument that calibrates, grades, and accounts for variations in continuity as mediated by power and knowledge. It legitimizes a series of paradigms that are central to the social and political formation of the nation, such as ethnic authenticity, cultural uniqueness, the production of an imagined other, to name a few (ibid.). However, in more recent considerations of the archive, its role in the production of national identities and national cultures comes under question. Is it possible to think of an art historical archive in a world of global art? How has digitalization and online access impacted the epistemic role of the archive? What new possibilities does the global condition offer the archive and vice versa?

Within this conceptual framework, Documenting Global Art 2013 will address the topic of the archive as a source of data for postgraduate research. Doctoral candidates from the University of Barcelona and the Institute National d’Histoire de l’Art will be invited to discuss the importance of the archive in their research work. Specifically, two thematic roundtables will be held in order to discuss 1) the archive and its limits and 2) what does/will a global archive look like? The aim is to hold an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary discussion of the uses and limits of the archive for the study of global art.

FREE ENTRANCE / Certificate of Attendance will be issued

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