PhD Candidate: Experimental Approaches to Global Histories of Art and Architecture – Radboud University – Nijmegen

Radboud University

We offer you the opportunity to develop and carry out your own PhD project within the area of expertise of your supervisors, who specialise in global approaches to the history of art and architecture: Prof. Scott Nethersole, Dr Sonia de Laforcade and Dr Matthew Mullane. The project will be funded by a Starters Grant from the Faculty of Arts awarded to Dr Sonia de Laforcade and Dr Matthew Mullane.

Amidst calls to decolonise the discipline and challenge inherited biases, art and architecture historians have increasingly embraced global-scale study. But what does a global history of art and architecture look like? And does it necessarily have to take the form of a book? Looking to the earliest examples of ’global’ art and architecture history we in fact see a wide range of media experiments. In Europe, nineteenth-century historians awash in new colonially sourced images and objects developed novel means of presenting the overwhelming scope of a global story. However, there remains a wealth of underexplored experiments from around the world that not only challenge our preconceptions about the authoritative book, but also the absoluteness of national and stylistic categories.

Scholars have begun to spotlight these overlooked examples of art history made by artists, critics, architects, and even corporations in unexpected media. The supervising team of this PhD project have contributed to these efforts by analysing projection-based performances that reinvent the history of art from the perspective of Brazil (de Laforcade) and a world history of architecture secreted away in a Japanese architect’s notebooks (Mullane). These examples of ’global art history’ are more than just novel experiments, but rather challenges to the structures of power inherent in disciplinary discourse. Today, in the face of digital media’s growing influence, we stand to lose alternative traditions of art history under the weight of the digital’s presumed objectivity. It is therefore vital to collect and understand approaches that add to the methodological multiplicity of the discipline. Your PhD project will contribute to this growing field of inquiry.

The proposed PhD project, ’Experimental Approaches to Global Histories of Art and Architecture’, will uncover and historicise experimental approaches to the history of art and architecture, with the aim of exploring diverse epistemological viewpoints. We are interested in PhD projects on artists, architects, historians, critics, and curators who used alternative media to challenge the narratives and methodologies of the history of art and architecture. The PhD project could focus on objects and practices that take the form of artworks, buildings, more complex intermedia projects, or curatorial and pedagogical experiments. The experimental practices under study may have emerged at any point from the nineteenth century to today, anywhere in world. Methodologically, the project encourages PhD candidates to uncover unpublished and under-examined sources that can help us rethink existing disciplinary frameworks.

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