Guest Seminars in November

7 Nov


On November 21, we welcome VAMA alumnus Jane Boddy (University of Vienna) for a presentation and discussion. This is the first installment in a loose series of seminars in which VAMA alumni discuss their current PhD research.

Jane Boddy is a PhD candidate at the Lab for Cognitive Research in Art History (CReA), University of Vienna. CReA uses cognitive methods ranging from questionnaires to physiological  measurements (especially eye-tracking) to determine how the qualities of the work (form and content), of the observer (individually and  culturally), and of the context affect the beholding of aesthetic objects. At this seminar, Jane will present her ongoing PhD research project, “Soon the meaning of lines will be revealed to us.” An experimental approach for studying the expressive contribution of lines in painting. In a particular, we will look into Kandinsky’s account of the function of the line in art.

On November 30 our faculty’s Graduate School and Critical Studies/VAMA cohost  a workshop with the art historian Terry Smith together with (and at) the Stedelijk Museum.

Terry Smith is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of acclaimed publications such as What is Contemporary Art? in 2009 and Thinking  Contemporary Curating in 2012. In this seminar, convened by Katja Kwastek and Sven Lütticken with the Stedelijk’s Jelle Bouwhuis, a few recent texts by Smith will function as the starting point for an open discussion about the curating of contemporary art in the era of globalization.


Image: Kandinsky, pen and ink drawing, 1925.    


VAMA Becomes Critical Studies in Art and Culture

4 Nov

For some time, there has been dissatisfaction with the name Visual Arts, Media and Architecture. It’s an enumeration rather than a real name, and to it some suggests that they’re dealing with “practical” or studio programmes; the acronym VAMA rolls of the tongue rather nicely but doesn’t say anything about the content.

However, changing the name of an officially accredited academic programme isn’t easy. Now we’re using a restructuring at our faculty to turn the subtitle we’re already been using on this website into the programme’s official name. The listing of the interlinked fields that we cover moves to the subtitle, so the complete package is:

Critical Studies in Art and Culture
Visual Art / Architecture / Design / Media

The programme remains essentially the same (hey, if it ain’t broke…). On the organizational level, Critical Studies will be a track within the faculty’s humanities research master, but with its own distinctive curriculum. For more information, including deadlines and procedures for applications, see this page.

Lecture Series: Digital Humanities

5 Oct

Professor Ginette Verstraete has organized a public lecture series, “Cultural Approaches to Digital Humanities,” which will take place in three installments from early November to early December:


Kunstlicht on Cultural Policies: Agendas of Impact

30 Aug


Did we mention that September will be one busy month? On September 13, beginning at 7 PM, the new issue of the VAMA-affiliated journal Kunstlicht will be launched at Framer Framed, IJpromenade 2, 1031 KT Amsterdam.

This issue is dedicated to “Cultural Policies: Agendas of Impact.” From the official announcement:
“This issue, guest-edited by Lara Garcia Diaz and Cristina Marques, delves into the historical grounds and present implications of arts and culture funding policies and programmes in the Netherlands and beyond. It features authors including: Sven Lütticken, Steven ten Thije, Josephine Berry, Bram Ieven and Market for Immaterial Value.

At the end of 2014, the Dutch Ministry of Culture (OCW) announced a new Art and Culture public fund, The Art of Impact, designating seven million euro to support art projects that have a distinct impact on society. With this programme, the policy of austerity initiated by minister of culture Halbe Zijlstra enters a new phase. Ideologically, it shifts away from discrediting the arts as a left-wing hobby towards rendering the arts as a tool of intervention and engagement with society.

In light of these events, Kunstlicht feels the necessity to initiate a debate about The Art of Impact to question the agenda of Cultural Policies that ultimately uses creativity and innovation to fuel neoliberal agendas and discourses. This topic already surfaced earlier this summer at our event in relation to the closing of the SMBA. We would like to use the launch event of our next issue to continue the debate and present you with different perspectives on the topic.

What does it mean to attribute to the artists, designers and art institutions the social, economical and political responsibility of changing and improving the world? The evening will consist of a moderated debate with guest speakers, a performance and a public discussion on the topic.”


This issue comes wrapped in a riso print by artist Wok the Rock, whose comic references Driving School Z, an early “transformation installation” by artist Guillaume Bijl. In his contribution, the essay “Ends of Art: From Nul to Bijl,” Sven Lütticken discussed Bijl’s piece in relation to the artist’s 1979 “Art Liquidation Project” text.


New Academic Year

29 Aug

As the 2016-2017 academic year is about to kick off, a flurry of activities is upon us. In addition to the regular curriculum, several of our staff members will be presenting new books and exhibitions! On September 9, Javier Gimeno-Martínez will launch his book  Design and National Identity at the Design History Society Conference at the University of Middlesex. Sven Lütticken’s new book, Cultural Revolution: Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy, is due later this semester.

Ten Commandments_Still_PK_0039

Meanwhile, Ivo Blom is co-curator of an exhibition on Lawrence Alma-Tadema that opens at the Fries Museum on October 1; the exhibition draws on Ivo’s research into the intermedial relations between nineteenth-century salon painting (in particular its representations of the ancient world) and twentieth-century film.

Finally, the Koos Bosma Lecture & Spatial Heritage Colloquium is to take place at the VU on September 22, in memory of our greatly missed colleague.

Image: publicity still for The Ten Commandments, 1956.

CFP Artistic Subversions: Setting the Conditions of Display

20 Jul

A Young Researcher’s Colloquium, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, February 2, 2017

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, February 3-4, 2017

CFP Deadline: Aug 30, 2016

Preceding the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’s symposium, ‘Lose Yourself! – On Labyrinthine Exhibitions as Curatorial Model’ (February 3-4, 2017) this young researchers’ colloquium (February 2, 2017) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will consider the strategies and methods by which artists take control over the space of installation.

Without the artist’s permission Triple Candie, an exhibition space in New York, featured a retrospective of Maurizio Cattelan. Entitled Maurizio Cattelan is Dead: Life & Work, 1960-2009 (2009), the show did not include a single work by the artist. Instead, it brought together a selection of photocopied images from previous exhibitions with (vaguely recognizable) replicas of works by the artist. Cattelan, still very much alive, urged the Deste Foundation – established by Dakis Joannou, a prodigious collector of Cattelan’s work – to acquire the entirety of the show. In the foundation in Athens it was later installed in a room expressly selected by the artist. By repositioning the show in a new space of his own devise, Cattelan altered the conditions of its setting thereby incorporating the complete exhibition into his oeuvre. This anecdote demonstrates a blurring of authorship between the artist and the curator, but it is also indicative of the significance of the setting of art, or its context, to its interpretation.

This shift in emphasis to the conditions of display can be traced at least as far back as the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme (1938). In this exhibition Marcel Duchamp’s 1200 Bags of Coal covered the ceiling of one of the galleries, and brought attention to it as both a physical constraint and as a surface for presentation. In Inside the White Cube (1976), Brian O’Doherty argues that from this point forward art could no longer be seen without noting what he calls “the effect of the container on the contained”. It is precisely this observation that, in 1972, led Daniel Buren to remark, “the exhibition is clearly the ‘enhancing receptacle’ where art not only plays out its part but is also engulfed.” Artists have long sought to control the conditions of this receptacle and the space of installation can be seen as a battleground in a fight for the sovereignty of art.

We invite paper proposals from MA, PhD, and post-doctoral researchers that consider general trends, or focus on specific artworks or exhibitions in which the setting has been subverted in order to alter the experience of the viewer. For the Stedelijk Museum’s Dylaby (1962) and Hon – en katedral (1966) at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm galleries were transformed into environments to immerse visitors in an evocative experience. A concern with shaping the environment of the exhibition space can likewise be seen in contemporary practices. Artist-designed itineraries, ‘scenarios’, or sets in which scripted, or unscripted events occur can be seen in this line. Consider, for example, the transformation installations of Guillaume Bijl, the interventions of Carsten Höller, Liam Gillick, and Pierre Huyghe, the speculative designs of Jerszy Seymour, or the ‘monuments’ of Thomas Hirschhorn. Papers that focus on cases, past or present, are welcome. How have historic or cultural circumstances influenced this impulse and impacted its realization? How does this aim extend beyond the traditional setting of the white cube gallery? And how have new media innovations played a role in setting the conditions of display? Please send paper proposals (400 words or less), along with your CV to Angela Bartholomew (a.m.bartholomew(at) and Katja Kwastek (k.kwastek(at) by August 30th.

The colloquium will be held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and those giving presentations at the young researchers colloquium will be invited, free of charge, to attend the symposium hosted at the Stedelijk over the two days to follow. Following the symposium, papers will be selected for inclusion in a peer-reviewed publication.