Following the ‘Material Turn(s)’ of the last few decades the place of objects and their materiality has received invigorated attention within humanities research. Yet, approaches to the material often remain stifled by the abstract ways in which they are approached. In the words of social anthropologist Tim Ingold, the engagement of historians with the material is ‘not with the tangible stuff of craftsmen and manufacturers but with the abstract ruminations of philosophers and theorists.’
This project, culminating in a temporary exhibition, aims to juxtapose Medieval and Renaissance objects with contemporary artistic responses in order to challenge traditional narratives of the role of objects in academic research. Taking current humanities research as the launch pad for investigation the event aims to create an open space for conversation between researcher and practitioner. Proposed Medieval and Renaissance objects, and their narratives, will serve as inspiration for artists to create a response piece. The contemporary response will be displayed during an exhibition at Queen Mary, University of London, where a launch event will encourage artists and researchers to come together to discuss their processes of deconstruction, interpretation and creation.
The exhibition will be accompanied by short but critical introductions to each piece, from historian and artist, with room for questions and thought. By creating a space for dialogue with practitioners who approach and experience their knowledge of the material from a different angle, we might open the way for reinvigorated readings of objects from the past. To allow a greater reach and extend the life of the project the temporary exhibition will be supported by an online exhibition that will serve as an on going discussion space.
We are seeking proposals from doctoral or early career researchers in history/art history/literary studies who work on Medieval, Renaissance or Early Modern period and would be prepared to write a synopsis of their research project (accessible to a general audience) and select an object that can serve as a gateway into their research.
The event is supported by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary University of London.