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 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.
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.
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