Performing Cultural Encounters: Historicity and Practice of Slide Collections in Contemporary Art – Ingeborg Reichle

Friday, March 31st 2017 – 12:00-13:00

With the arrival of the digital age everyone is able to accumulate a collection of images on a global scale and create a Universe of Art (Universum der Kunst) of their own imagination, an aspiration that was difficult to achieve in the days when slide collections were painstakingly established by institutions as well as some private collectors. Nineteenth-century art lovers, and later professional art historians, accumulated slide collections of art works to underpin and visually demonstrate their concepts of the evolution of art and ornament. In my lecture I shall discuss how contemporary artists reference this now outdated medium in order to reflect on the materiality of works of art in the digital era as well as the damage and destruction that art is still exposed to today. I will present how the Munich and Berlin based-artist Michaela Rotsch utilises slide collections to raise awareness of how important it is to reproduce and document art works, for example, in contexts like the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, Iraq, the former Saddam Centre for the Arts. In 2016 she was performing cultural encounters by exhibiting her project “Diapositive: Public Collection_Baghdad” at the ruined Al-Mutasarrifiyya court building on Al-Mutanabbi Street, one of the oldest and best-known streets in Baghdad, and also in the Gulbenkian Hall of the National Museum of Modern Art, the largest art hall in the heart of Baghdad, where reproductions of its former art collection are on display. Since it opened in 1962, this museum exhibited Iraq’s pioneering modern art with a focus on Iraqi artists who were influenced by twentieth-century European art movements; however, its collection disappeared during the widespread looting that ensued when the regime of Saddam Hussein fell in 2003. The reopening of the National Museum of Modern Art in 2014 was reason enough for Michaela Rotsch to reflect in her project on art works in transition with an approach that takes both Western and Arab perspectives into consideration.

Ingeborg Reichle’s research and writing focuses on the encounter of contemporary art with new technologies, such as New Media and biomedia. A further focus of her academic writing is the historiography of art history, especially the influence of visual media (both analogue and digital) on modes of art historical thought and how this academic field is perceived within the contemporary art world today. This field of her interest also includes discourses about the concept of World Art History, which emerged in Germany around 1900, and the search for the origin of art and ornament by early twentieth-century scholars such as Alois Riegl, Ernst Grosse, and Aby Warburg.
Before joining the faculty of the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2016 and serving as Department Chair of the Department of Media Theory, Ingeborg Reichle was FONTE professor at the Department of Cultural Theory at Humboldt University Berlin. In 2014 she was Visiting Research Fellow for two terms at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas of the Universidad National Autonoma Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City.

Ingeborg Reichle received her Ph.D. from Humboldt University Berlin in 2004 with a dissertation titled Art in the Age of Technoscience: Genetic Engineering, Robotics, and Artificial Life in Contemporary Art, published 2005 in German and 2009 in English by Springer publishers, Vienna and New York. She is co-editor of seven books, the most recent being IMAGE MATCH. Visueller Transfer, “Imagescapes” und Intervisualität in globalen Bildkulturen (Fink, Munich 2012), Atlas der Weltbilder (Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011), Maßlose Bilder: Visuelle Ästhetik der Transgression (Fink, Munich 2009), Visuelle Modelle (Fink, Munich 2008), and Verwandte Bilder: Die Fragen der Bildwissenschaft (Kadmos, Berlin 2007).