Connecting Principle is an art centred international multi-disciplinary research forum at Newcastle University instigating a dialogue between art and other disciplines. Lead by Prof Wolfgang Weileder, the aim of the forum is to increase opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration within academia and independently. Connecting Principle sees itself as an international network of artists, theorists and researchers.
Our current activities feature a series of presentations, round table discussions and an annual two-day event that showcases the recent projects and collaborations of our members.
Art on the Production of Knowledge
Dr. Susanne Witzgall
Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich
Tuesday, 7 May 2013, 4pm
New Seminar Room, Old Fine Art Building
In the nineteen-sixties, young Conceptual artists began to thematize the institutional, social, economic, and historical parameters affecting the fine arts, and in doing so, they challenged the established autonomous and “objective” status of art. In the process, they questioned both the political and social conditions of artistic production (Dan Graham) and—inspired, among other things, by systems theory—the political and social factors determining the reception and the distribution of artistic knowledge (Hans Haacke). At the same time, the artistic deconstruction of the museum was initiated—from the art museum to the museum of ethnology. Artists such as Marcel Broodthaers and Lothar Baumgarten demonstrated how criteria of museum inclusion and exclusion or criteria of taxonomy are personally and politically motivated. Knowledge stored in the museum therefore has to be regarded as fabricated knowledge that tells us more about the culture producing it than the culture it represents.
After all, over the last two decades, contemporary artists have not only made reference to the cultural and political construction of historical knowledge (Simon Wachsmuth), but also to that of scientific facts. Works by the American artist Mark Dion, for example, do not depict scientific theories as being objective, timeless, or trans-cultural, but as unstable models enmeshed in an ecology of divergent interests and historical conditions. Dion cites Michel Foucault and Donna Haraway, who like the biologist Stephen Jay Gould view science as something “which is socially bound, which has something to do with ideology, which is not detached from economical, social and personal conditions.” Drawing on Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, in the course of his theoretical reflections, the Swiss artist Hannes Rickli, for example, highlights the immediate general experimental framework necessary for the production of scientific knowledge.
The understanding that scientific knowledge contains constructive elements, that scientific truths are not discovered but produced, will certainly have ramifications. Some contemporary artists, for instance, have become increasingly interested in a trans-disciplinary cross-linking of knowledge that purposely operates independently of the privilege of scientific logic and systematization.
Susanne Witzgall holds a Ph.D. in art history and is head of the cx centre of interdisciplinary studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. From 2003 to 2011 she was an assistant professor at the department for art history at the same place. From 1995 to 2002 she worked as a curator for the Deutsches Museum Bonn and the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Her research interests focusing especially on the interfaces between art and science, art and sociology/cultural anthropology, art as research and knowledge production. She has curated and co-curated several exhibitions in Germany and Austria among them Art & Brain II (1997/1998), The Second Face (2002, with Cornelia Kemp), Say it isn’t so (2007, with Peter Friese) and (Re)designing nature (2010/2011, with Florian Matzner). She is the author of several books and articles on contemporary art and art and science e.g. Kunst nach der Wissenschaft (Art after Science) (2003) or Medienrelationen (ed. with Cornelia Gockel) (2011).