November 2021

Fr26NovGanztägigSa27Depth of FieldDecolonization and the Grounds of Art(istic) Research

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Organised by Lindsey Drury, Research Area 5: „Building Digital Communities“

With Sarah Amsler, Dani D’Emilia, Tada Hozumi, Wojtek Klimczyk, Gretta Louw, Tiara Roxanne, and Mukhtara Yusuf.

In a sense, colonisation is both manifested by and has itself manifested fields. Foundational to settler-colonialism is the transformation of so-called ‚virgin land‘ into fields of economised agricultural space. Applied and field-based sciences such as botany and ethnography played ’scholarly‘ roles in extractive colonial economies, filled natural history museums with plunder and expanded European world-ordering systems of thought. The colonial concept of Terra Nullius even mirrors the notion of the ‚visual field‘ in art, defined by the Chicago School of Media Theory as a field in which one can „simultaneously see something and nothing at all; emptiness, absence, paradoxically fills the very space of vision“. If fields diverge into lands, disciplines, research practices and components of artistic composition, fields nonetheless converge in that they systematise and formalise material and conceptual grounds. Fields are further tied to historically European measures of practice; the acre is the size of field that could be ploughed by a medieval farmer in a day. Fields provide for complex topographies of ownership, belonging, and means of valuation for labours, ideas, practices, objects, colours, media, and lands alike.

The workshop „Depth of Field: Decolonization and the Grounds of Art(istic) Research“ involves a small group of scholars and artists whose work on decolonisation re-evaluates the ‚fields‘ and ‚fieldworks‘ of arts research and art-as-research.

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