CFP: The Challenge of The Object (CIHA)

The 33rd International Congress of Art Historians
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg
July 15-20, 2012
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg is the organizer of the 33rd International Congress of Art Historians (CIHA – Congrès International d’Histoire de l’Art) in 2012. The overall theme of the congress is “The Challenge of the Object”. For the first time since 1873, a museum will play host to the world congress. The aim of this congress is to come to terms with the perception and theory of the “object” within art history. With regard to the challenges of globalization and increasing digitalization, this question has gained a completely new volatility, to which the Western history of art has not yet discovered an answer. Particularly museums, whose tasks are the acquisition, preservation, research, and presentation of objects, and which for many represent a central source for accessing the artefact, are predestined to assume a leading role in the discussion.

The focal point of the conference is the notion of the object. On the one hand, we shall investigate material objects and on the other hand, the topic in its broader sense. It is the point of departure and at the same time, the subject of art historical research by which the discipline must prove itself repeatedly, even though like every other scholarly discipline, it constructs its subject matter. The treatment of material objects, be it a building, painting, sculpture, or any other artefact – whether a cult object, a collected piece, or an item of daily use – is a touchstone for art historical research. Objects are thought to exist within their specific materiality, their historical context, and their history, but in the same time they are constructed by diverging academic viewpoints that are central to the conference and its sections.
The analysis of objects can ensue from many viewpoints and requires the respective cooperation of researchers from the most diverse fields. In each of these areas, objects are constituted by means of specific questions and approaches toward the object. The conference offers an opportunity for the presentation of and debate between differing perspectives and methodologies.
The questioning of material objects and their constitution offer the possibility to discuss within a global framework regarding diverging methods of treating and evaluating objects as carriers of cultural content. The focus upon the question of common and different perceptions and applications of created objects should encourage a transcultural dialogue on the one hand and on the other hand, address the function of these objects as mobile and immobile symbols within different political and/or religious areas of interest.
The understanding or celebration of material “objects” as “originals” gains particular significance in a digitized and globalized world. How does our definition and treatment of presumed “originals” change? Is it even possible to make the object tangible in the sphere of contemporary art, specifically with video and Internet art or performance? How does one handle ephemeral art, whether modern or historical? The conference wishes to diversely expand upon these questions and provide an opportunity for discussion and controversial debate.
The themes and section organization of the 2012 CIHA Congress wish to stimulate reflection upon the categories and limitations that have become standard in art history. The individual sections do not delineate any historical or geographical boundaries; to a greater extent, they tend to merge contributions from diverse cultural spheres and fields of discourse with one another.
If “art history” is not to be interpreted in the narrow sense as the “history of art” but instead as a conflict with the tangible visual object as artefact, then numerous opportunities to become apparent to link and expand a historical and primarily European or Western-influenced discipline in favour of the requisite global expansion.
Presentations within the individual sections should propose basic approaches to the theoretical handling of the issue of the object, as well as methods of art history and inquiries of global comparison. In doing so, one should not primarily address the individual object, but to a greater extent, draw conclusions from its treatment toward the theory of the object as a whole. In due proportion, traditional areas of the fine arts and architecture should come up for discussion, as well as areas which would newly open up a globally-oriented art history.
Application Deadline: April 30, 2011
For full information and submission forms please visit:
Kontakt: CIHA 2012 Secretary, Petra Krutisch
Telefax: 0049-911-1331210
Mailing Address:
CIHA 2012
c/o Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Kornmarkt 1
D-90402 Nuremberg