As a research centre, Art as Forum supports individual and collectively organized research, both in collaboration with international researchers and local cultural institutions. On a daily basis, the research of the centre is rhythmized by group readings, public lecturers, organization of conferences and summits, and editorial work in the Art as Forum publication series.
Professor Frederik Tygstrup
This project addresses the general theoretical questions underpinning the Art as Forum-project. Modern aesthetic theory is founded on a predominant focus on the relation and interaction between the aesthetic object and the configuration of individual aesthetic experience, and hence on an epistemological framework that privileges material form and subjective sensibility. Based on a thorough historicization of this regime of aesthetic theory, the aim is to reframe the advent of artistic forms and the formation of particular sensibilities in a broader societal context by addressing the mode of existence of art in modern and contemporary societies and the array of social relations it encompasses, those that uphold the institutional infrastructure of art as well as those produced and sustained through artistic practices.
The fundamental tenet of this work is to combine historical and contemporary contributions to aesthetic theory with theoretical approaches to sociality and communality in social anthropology, political philosophy and critical theory. Presently, the focus is on the interfaces of aesthetics and politics in Hannah Arendt and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, on anthropological approaches to aesthetics from Émile Durkheim to Félix Guattari, and on phenomenological and post-phenomenological approaches to intersubjectivity and intercorporeality.
Recent publications pertaining to this research include:
"Literature and Democracy,” in Vera Nünning (ed), The Value of Literature: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature. Tübingen 2021
“Information and the Vicissitudes of Representation,” in Diffractions 2, 2020
“Sensus Communis. On Art and Democracy,” in Mario Klinger (ed), Imagine: Aufzeichnungen der Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Zürich 2019
“Culture, Quality, and Human Time,” in Knut Eliassen (ed.), Contested Qualities. Negotiating Value in Arts and Culture, Oslo 2019
“The Work of Art: From Fetish to Forum,” in Academic Quarter 16, 2017
Socioaesthetics: Ambience – Imaginary, eds. Anders Michelsen & Frederik Tygstrup, Leiden 2015
PhD fellow Mathias Hindkjær Overgaard.
This PhD project attempts to conceptualize a social dimension inherent in aesthetic experience by engaging a corpus of anthropological and sociological theories on rituals. Departing from the conception that such experiences are fundamentally relational, the project approaches the collectivistic and performative situation of the art encounter through the work of thinkers such as Émile Durkheim, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Victor Turner and Félix Guattari. While the correspondence between ritualistic notions of sociality and the performative aesthetics of theatre and other “live” arts is well established, An Aesthetics of Ritual outlines two different trajectories which place the discussion outside the specific pairing of performative anthropology and artistic performances.
This is done, firstly, by forwarding the thesis that experiences of communality is potentially at play in any aesthetic relation regardless of medium and genre; that it is the aesthetic relation in its modern guise as such that can be said also to inhabit an intersubjective modus operandi, and, further, that we can describe or nuance this mode through an understanding of the relation as a phenomenon that follows a ritualistic and therefore social logic. Secondly, and following the first, this is an invitation to propose another periodization. Going back to the birth of modern European aesthetics in the second half of the 18th century, the project contributes to a new genealogy that considers the experience-based encounter - which characterizes the so-called aesthetic regime - not just as a personal affect but also as a site for collective imaginaries and interactions. The thesis thus has a theoretical and methodological aim since the communal practices at work in rituals are taken as a vantagepoint to engage with aesthetic theory. And it has a historical agenda insofar as it relies on an alternative diachronicity which locates a ritualistic function in philosophical notions of art and aesthetics dating back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant.
PhD fellow Frida Sandström
This research project aims at investigating the historical specificity of the aesthetic judgment with regards to the concept of ‘need’ – here understood as social relations and social reproduction – as it manifests in three cases: Jill Johnston (1929 – 2010), Carla Lonzi (1931 – 1982), and Adrian Piper (1948 –). The cases are selected on the basis that all three, in different ways, prove example of an immanent social critique, from the position of the labouring art critic/artist, during the period of 1960-1980. This period is marked by manifold changes in capitalist society, and for the concept of art and identity, a context in which the analysis will be situated.
Theoretically, the study departs from a twofold reading of the concept of ‘need,’ as it appears in in Immanuel Kant’s Third Critique, throughout Karl Marx’ oeuvre, and furthermore in Theodor W. Adorno’s reading of both. ‘Need’ will thus be discussed in terms of 1) the object of need as the other, 2) the objectification of social relations as essential to what Marx calls the ‘human essence,’ and 3) what Adorno calls a “we”/a “fait social,” in art. Methodologically, these aspects for the concept of need will be discussed in relation to concepts introduced by the three cases: 1) Johnston’s disintegration, 2) Lonzi’s deculturation, 3) Piper’s object.
The postdoc research project is supported by the Carlsberg Foundation.
With an attention to digital art and urban, media aesthetic phenomena, my research examines perceptual experience with art and aesthetics in perspective of contemporary technogenesis.
Theory on perception in relation to art has predominantly been studied in terms of how we 'see' art, multi-sensorially; meanings we attribute to it and reflections and interpretations we suppose that the art evokes. But the ubiquity of digital media challenges how we can account for a sense of perceptual consciousness. In my research, I consider how digital culture conditions a particular environment for art’s perception, inquiry and existence; how, in this context, we can be analytically attentive to corporeal, neurological processes of perception and mechanisms of memory engaged by the temporalities and aesthetics of the digital; how we can nuance understandings of especially media-based art’s perceptual and cultural implications when it expands to environments of innovation; and how perceptual conditions of digital culture challenge established ontologies for art.
My research takes off in the concept of ‘technogenesis’, which generally concerns our evolution with technology and the epigenetic effects of mediated experience. I develop the notion of technogenesis from a feminist materialist (or, neo materialist) position and explore art’s experience as an experiential place to question how we evolve with technics and digital culture.
My current research is titled Art of our Times and explores an intratemporal ontology for art, when intersubjectivity (or, intercorporeality) is entangled with interobjectivity, referring to data-driven processes and relations among digital objects and their milieus. I engage a temporal optics on how the art exists through temporalities that we live with and transform through. My work specifically addresses how temporality in aesthetic experience affects temporal processes of emotion and memory structures, neuronal connections, and eventually habits and intuitions underpinning cultural formation and social structures. This research builds upon my recent work on memory and technogenesis in expanded reality experience at City University of Hong Kong, which examines how a sense of reality is technologically expanded (or, reduced) with art and media aesthetic phenomena and the sociopolitical implications this entails.
Assistant professor Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt
How is sociality shaped and negotiated in the arts - the way we organize ourselves, split or stay together? In the frame of the research centre Art as Forum I am examining how social, temporal and economic conditions both politicise artistic work and shape forms of living. From a feminist perspective I analyse interdependencies in the dynamic relation between production and reception of art. Conditions of domestic work, affective and reproductive labour are taken into account, both in our historical present and in a diachronous perspective.
I am particularly interested in how accessibility of higher artistic education and art institutions is shaped through both policy and regulations, as well as by gendered, racialized and classist conditions, but also by haunting notions of the soloist, free artist and the art work in western aesthetic theory.
Currently, I am developing a model of cultural analysis departing from the theoretical concept of co-reproduction, informed by the historical practices of artist collectives in the 1930s, 1970s, and after 2011: how they organize and distribute shared time, visibility and economy.
PhD fellow Line Ellegaard
This PhD project is concerned with exhibition histories and studies of modern and contemporary art and considers, in particular, the collective process, communal address and public reception of art exhibitions, along with their social, political and aesthetic dimension.
With the working title Exhibition as Forum: Forms of solidarity in feminist, anti-racist and post-colonial exhibition practises, 1970-2010, the project examines intersections of exhibition making, activism and social struggle in a Nordic context, by focusing on case-studies of women exhibitions in the 1970s, transnational solidarity exhibitions in the 1980s and collective activist curatorial practices from the 2000s. The project addresses concepts of solidarity, collective practice and publics, as well as relations of aesthetic and political concerns in activist exhibition making against the backdrop of the Nordic welfare state.
PhD fellow Xenia Brown Pallesen
In response to the past years focus on participatory practices in art, I wish to examine participatory dissemination practices and their suitability to open the conversation about contemporary art to a more diverse segment. The intention is to unfold the framework for how and by whom contemporary art is communicated and disseminated within the art institutions.
The project is partly practice-led based on empiric examinations and workshops engaging local citizens to share and evaluate their experiences of art based on their personal associations. By inviting their viewpoints on the exhibited art, the project aims to break down hierarchies of interpretation to unfold the narratives or stories that contemporary art beholds. In creating the formats for engaging the audiences a central aspect is co-creation to give the participants the agency to speak their own thoughts and experiences of art, as well as listening to other people’s perspectives in difference and communality.
While working closely to practice, it is the mission to create and try out different formats or methods for participatory dissemination and communication of art – as well as examine the utility and application of empirical and performative research methods within the art historical research paradigm.
Postdoc Eva La Cour-Nielsen
As postdoctoral fellow at the Art as Forum center I am investigating a dimension of communality, pertaining to the temporal basis for difference in society, through time-based analytical acts.
While steeped in insights, knowledges, and affinities with the intellectual history of essay filmmaking as artistic practice, my project revolves around an attempt to formulate a post-future essayism, when understood as a precarious filmic methodology and epistemological strategy of the moving image that trains care, attention, and sensibility. Sidesteping the optimism of current discourses on the cinematic and the essay film, post-future essayism seeks to critically circumvent the historical and colonial legacy of more site-bounded desires of achieving communality - in relation to artistic practice but also in a wider sense.
Practically, I explore temporal and relational forms of the image and image-practices through a collaboration with Mia Edelgart. Together, we conduct practice-based archival research on the Belgian tv-producer, Jef Cornelis (1941-2018), as an integrated take on a joint film project that revolves around contemporary climate protests in public space. The collaboration allows me to examine post-future essayism through live editing and vox pop formats as a performative and situated cinematic expression.
Albeit differently, I also contemplate on modalities of relating and their mediating effects with Jundan Jasmin Zhang - a political ecologist at the Swedish Center for Nature Interpretation. The two of us met on Svalbard, which is an Arctic Archipelago where I have conducted research several times since 2010 and a returning focus in my writing.
A core aim is to contribute to new, much needed, conceptualizations of practice not as an act of intention but as an act of relation; filmmaking not as an act of narrating a place or a community, but as an act of engaging situated conditions upon shifting grounds. For this reasons, the guide figure (at the core of more former PhD research) is an important analytical tool and mode of practice for my artistic inquiring.
PhD fellow Amanda Grimsbo Roswall
My research evolves around the French feminist essay of the 1970's and up until today with a special focus on how the essay moves between languages and across cultures and geographies in different formats. By studying the essays and how they affect feminist theory and practice in the US and Denmark, I ultimately seek to understand how ideas are shaped through space and time in coherence with their materiality.
At the moment, I work with essays of the Belgian feminist and psychoanalysist Luce Irigaray. I want to understand how her ideas of a new feminist language came into being and how these ideas influenced feminist theory in the US when the essays were translated from the original French into English in the beginning of the 1980's. Apart from Irigaray, I study the international influences of Danish writer and feminist icon Suzanne Brøgger.
Theoretical grounds: History of the Book, Comparative Literature, Media Studies.
Supervisors: Tina Lupton (Engerom, UCPH) and Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt (IKK, UCPH)
Postdoc Rasmus Holmboe, in collaboration with Museet for Samtidskunst
Contemporary art today increasingly operates through dynamic social processes, in mixed formats and performative settings that are often taking place outside the structuring frame of the gallery. Concurrently art museums are increasingly focusing more on distributed forms of knowledge production and diverse communities than classic “show and tell” strategies. As such museums are at a turning point where a narrow focus on the meeting between an individual and a discrete art object is replaced by locally situated, dynamic and relational experiences and epistemologies.
The project The Distributed Art Museum is a collaboration with Museet for Samtidskunst, which is in the process of leaving the buildings in the Yellow Mansion in Roskilde where it has been housed since 1991. The motivation to do so is a wish to rethink, on the grounds of the above situation, how a museum would be and act if it were to be invented today.
In the project I work from a double perspective. In part I examine and historicize how the modes of address and ways of interaction of contemporary art can be understood as material and contextual situations in relation to the museum institution in an expanded field where the museum is not necessarily tied to the gallery exhibition space. And in part I aim to expand onto a broader museological framework that can analyze how the museum as a public knowledge institution is currently undergoing changes – both as consequences of the changes within artistic practice, in the publics’ demand for more including and contemporary institutions as well as the changing political views on the raison d’être of museums. As such it is also the aim of the project to investigate how the “classic” representational tasks concerning history and cultural heritage are challenged and changed concurrently with contemporary focus on visibility, user-engagement and actualization.
PhD fellow Morten Chemnitz
The research project investigates the relationship between collectivity and inoperativity in late 20th century French poetry. Based on an analysis of the use of the first person plural, the nous, in four exemplary works of poetry published between 1963 and 1973, the project seeks to illuminate the reconfigurations of collectivity and communality that takes place in the poetry of the period. The literary historical perspective of the project is to situate and describe the formal aspects of this rethinking and its poetological consequences in poets such as Edmond Jabès, André du Bouchet, Anne-Marie Albiach and Claude Royet-Journoud. The theoretical perspective of the project is an ambition to establish a critical dialogue between these poetic reconfigurations of collectivity and the reflections on community in terms of inoperativity developed from the early 1980's onwards in works by Maurice Blanchot, Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben and others.
Postdoc/Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow Daniel Irrgang
(Horizon2020, grant agreement no. 101028379)
The research project investigates the concept of “thought exhibition” (TE), a curatorial approach developed by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel during four exhibitions at ZKM | Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (Germany). Following Latour’s work in philosophy and science & technology studies (STS) the art exhibitions aim at challenging the dualistic mentality (nature/culture, object/subject, etc.) fostered by European modernity which is, according to Latour, at the heart of current crises such as climate change. TEs engage visitors in a “spatio-aesthetic thought experiment” by bringing them into a position where they can question modern preconceptions, such as the domination of culture over nature or the notion of objective distance towards phenomena, and encourage them to develop alternatives.
The project will gain new insights into Latour’s work in philosophy and STS by demonstrating the significance of TEs for this work. It will also provide a conceptual framework for the role of the arts in facilitating engaging narratives on ecologically/socially critical issues. In particular, the project will investigate Latour’s concepts of “hybrids”, artefacts which cannot be put distinctively in categories of nature or culture, transgressing the dualistic distinctions, and of “compositionism”, a relational way of juxtaposing objects and actors in the exhibition space.
The research will be carried out by reviewing published and, at the ZKM archive, unpublished material, by analysing ZKM visitor surveys and by conducting interviews with Latour, Weibel, co-curators and ZKM staff, all of whom have pledged to fully support the project.
Despite the relevance of both Latour’s work and ZKM as a leading art museum, little research on the TE concept has been done so far. The project wants to thoroughly investigate this curatorial approach which builds on the aesthetic and participatory capacity of the arts to address crucial issues and to activate individuals for processes of change.
Postdoc Solveig Daugaard
Both the mythology of the independent author and the apparition of the self-sufficient, individual reader are foundational elements in the technological construction of the modern bourgeois individual or, with media theorist Friedrich Kittler, “so-called man”. In this project, I examine the consequences of the post-digital media condition for our ways of writing, reading and understanding literary works in order to challenge this understanding of literature as a form of expression forever inseparable from the modern individual. Applying a concept of “affective infrastructuring,” understood as the movement or patterning of social forms to sustain worlds (Berlant 2016), the project develops an infrastructural approach to literature by conceiving of this individual as a technologically maintained interface, rather than a natural or essential entity, and by looking at alternative infrastructures of the arts that are established by the “sticky” effects of collaborative art practices summoning social and creative communities (Ahmed 2014).
Taking off from a set of print-based (but not print-exclusive) literary practices on the contemporary, experimental US poetry scene, all of which exhibit strong ethical, political and affective investments and, in various ways, evade more traditional approaches of literary scholarship, the project investigates how literature in our present moment has the potential to become politically engaged and politically relevant not primarily through the language of the individual, engaged author writing a sincere, political and/or critical work, but when it activates collective structures afforded by networked computers, personalized technologies and digital images even if it remains just as likely to materialize through the interfaces of print culture. Examining the more ephemeral or provisional infrastructures arising in the transitional times of late capitalism, I will approach what I conceptualize as a critical infrastructural poetics at play in a set of literary practices that can productively be framed as acts of community formation generating broader fields of action, rather than as productions of perfected literary artifacts, or star authors.
This research cluster focuses on how the social and relational mode of existence of art is expressed in the artwork itself. Through historical, analytical, and theoretical approaches to artworks and aesthetic processes, we aim to describe and better understand the specificity of art by considering is as an appearance, in a twofold sense of the word. On the one hand, artistic expressions present something which appears – a sensation, an experience, an insight that is being articulated in the material and medial form of the artwork. And on the other, the work of art itself appears as its sensual form interfaces toward a public or a beholder; it has a form that impinge on somebody.
Appearance, then, is about the instantiation of human experiences in and of the world, and it is about the event of presenting the work as a sensate reality that reach out to others. This research is theoretically driven as a reassessment of central positions in modern aesthetic theory, specifically aimed at highlighting how social (and societal) relations and forms of communality are mediated and negotiated in the dual processes of appearance. To this end, we mobilise approaches from a broad range of traditions, including social theory, critical philosophy, anthropology, feminism, black studies, and history of science , to gauge the roles and functions of art as appearance in a social field.
In the group we study the relational mesh of institutions, exhibitions, curating and other nodes that connect the production and reception of artistic objects and processes. We work from both historical and contemporary perspectives with issues of feminism, distribution, publics, collective practices, archives, economies, infrastructure, and institutional critique.
Our work is both empirical, practice based and theoretical and is carried equally by strong involvement with the institutional infrastructures we study and critical reflection of the transient forms of communality they produce. We are currently working on a special issue of a journal that examines the imaginaries of publics and commons related to the public art museums in the Nordic region.
Among others, we read and discuss texts by Édouard Glissant, Nora Sternfeld, Elke Krasny, Felix Guattari, Keller Easterling, Howard S. Becker, Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star and Kate Lacey.
Members fall 2021: Line Ellegaard and Rasmus Holmboe
Informed by feminist theory, black studies, performance studies, infrastructural studies and media theory, we study the dependencies in cultural production, distribution and consumption: economies, policies, technologies, temporal frames, gatekeeping aesthetic norms, social and domestic relations, emotional labour, structural accessibility and notions of critique.
In the study group, we try to reflect critically on our own implication in such infrastructures of dependency as situated and embodied researchers in an institutional setting and the way this continuously shapes the patterns of attention and practices of border-drawing we reproduce as we read (and think, talk, write).
We currently read and discuss texts by Édouard Glissant, Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Judith Butler, Elena Esposito, Jill Stauffer, Elaine Swan, Sara Ahmed.
Members fall 2021: Solveig Daugaard, Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt, Amanda Grimsbo Roswall