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Metamorphosis of the Artwork

Research project The research project focuses upon artwork’s metamorphosis and discusses its influence on the interpretation process, aiming to integrate artworks from different periods into a study of interpretation, with a discourse based on ontological criteria

The research project Metamorphosis of the Artwork focuses upon artwork’s metamorphosis and discusses its influence on the interpretation process, aiming to integrate artworks from different periods into a study of interpretation, with a discourse based on ontological criteria. The artwork is in this project viewed as a process of continuous metamorphosis begun from the initiation of the artwork and proceeding not only through the changes imposed on the artwork by the course of time, but within the artwork itself by the elements of its structure. It is the question of the ”right distance” between the artwork and the art historian, a distance at times unexpectedly revoked by the images themselves, even through their disappearance. Due to their decomposition, many of the artworks discussed in the project as if no longer belong to the art historical periods once foreseen to them. Seldom or never appearing in the surveys, they inhabit a region of invisibility, or rather, are no longer supposed to be seen. In their status of ruin, they nevertheless continue the tearing of the ”veil” – the hindering membrane constituted by the art history’s trained way of seeing. This restricting veil is often constituted by a given order of relation between subject and object, a situation in which the artwork is the object of the interpretation, in addition to the discourse hitherto held about this particular piece, without realizing the reciprocity of the moment, the attention pointed from the artwork itself. Looking in the artwork’s face transformed by metamorphosis leads to new categories of describing the encounter, which would approach the zone of (dis)appearance. The ambivalence of the fact that the works are ”not there” while actually still ”being there” leads their contemplation and interpretation to a new level, where their changed appearance enigmatically approaches their process of becoming. The project’s discourse on artworks dating from various art historical periods and areas also aims at focusing upon the visual means by which the metamorphosis is intermediated in art. Thus the project does not differentiate the artworks according to their stylistical criteria or chronology but by their ways of approaching the theme of metamorphosis

Project overview

Project period:

2006-01-01 2009-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Culture and Media Studies