Institute of Art History and Visual Culture and Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia present
public lecture on April 20, 18.00 at Arhitektuurikeskus (Põhja pst 27a, Tallinn)
Dorothea von Hantelmann „Why exhibitions became a modern ritual (and what they tell us about the society in which they take place) “
Hantelmann will hold a seminar on April 21, 10.00 at Institute of Art History and Visual Culture (Suur-Kloostri 11). Registration and reading materials: karin.nugis@artun.ee
Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall tells us as much about the state of Western society in 2015 as the Crystal Palace reflected mid-19th century productivism, or as early modern curiosity cabinets connect to the rise of consumer culture. Art institutions are mirrors of the socio-economic order of their time, whose basic parameters they practice and enact. We can retrace the entire history of individualisation by following the increase of wall space between paintings in 19th and 20th century galleries. We can comprehend the transition of early market societies into consumer societies alongside the transformation of 19th century museums into white cubes. And we can analyse the contemporary experience society on the basis of the way it transforms the white cube into time-based experiential spaces. Art institutions are deeply linked to the values and categories that constitute a given time, which is why they have to keep transforming in order to adjust and to remain what they always have been: a contemporary ritual. Looking at art spaces from the 16th century to the present day as a series of decisive moments of transformation, we may find that the transformations of our epoch are asking for a new kind of ritual, after that of the exhibition.
Dorothea von Hantelmann was documenta Professor at the Art Academy/University of Kassel where she lectured on the history and meaning of documenta and established the constitution of a documenta research institute. Her main fields of research are contemporary art and theory as well as the history and theory of exhibitions. She is currently working on a book that explores art exhibitions as ritual spaces in which fundamental values and categories of modern, liberal and market based societies historically have been, and continue to be practised and reflected. She is author of How to Do Things with Art, a book on performativity within contemporary art.

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