4A Lab: Art Histories, Archaeologies, Anthropologies, Aesthetics
4A Lab is a joint program of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, a research institute of the Max Planck Society, and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz in collaboration with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Forum Transregional Studies and other partners. The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Heritage Foundation) is an internationally outstanding cultural and scientific institution with unique museums, archives, libraries and research facilities; the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is a globally connected research institute, with a strong agenda in transcultural art histories.
4A Lab connects diverse disciplines, types of collections and multiple institutions in an innovative way. In particular, 4A Lab attempts to foster dialogues and exchanges between art history, archaeology, anthropology and aesthetics (4 A) as well as other disciplines concerned with objects, practices, environments and narratives (OPEN).
The research and fellowship program invites excelling doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to Berlin. The collaboration promotes methodological inquiries and close contact with objects, artworks, collections and archives.
The program focuses on OPEN (objects, practices, environments, and narratives) in their historical, social and historiographical dimensions, including histories of collecting and display. It invites researchers to study the art, materiality, mediality, agency, ecology and mobility of objects and related discourses. Under such premises, the program aims to create a space for dialogue for university and museum scholars in order to strengthen transdisciplinary collaboration in the proximity of objects, to transcend the borders of the 4A disciplines, to combine their skills and to foster a conversation between more conceptual and more empirical approaches. The program aspires to promote transversal networking and critical reflections on historical and contemporary languages and terminologies.
4A LAB Annual theme 2020/2021: Plants II
In recent years, human understanding of the biology of plants has significantly changed. Neurobiologists have described vegetal life in new ways to a wider public, stressing the fact that plants not only have a sensorial apparatus, sex, but that they are also mobile – even though their motion is mostly slow – and even react to music. Plants, it would seem, have agency and they are endowed with forms of collective intelligence, a faculty that is located in plant networks, roots and ramifications. Plants, their ecology and the human interactions with plants therefore should be studied in new light, in a planetary perspective, from the beginnings of human history, as part of the Anthropocene. This includes research on the manifold aesthetic and artistic practices related to or based on plants.
While plants are important factors in human history, humans are leaving their imprint on the history and ecology of plants. The absence, presence and temporalities of vegetal life have always had an impact on settlements as well as urbanization processes. Moreover, plants are dominant elements in the human transformation of landscapes and environments. They are central for the history of colonialism, especially in the form of plantations. They are also protagonists in the making of – real and imagined – gardens across cultures. Plants interact with the human body and its sensorial, perceptive and biochemical apparatus, be it by means of drugs or via food and air. Flowers and fruit are significant elements or even agents in a history of smell and perfume. Plants are not only indispensable for the future of nutrition, they also come with a long past of cultivation processes that includes bioengineering.
For all of these reasons, plants and plant life have been a constant field of investigation and knowledge production, be it by practitioners such as farmers, or by scholars and amateurs. The understanding of plants can be gendered or socially and culturally distinctive, with specific knowledge systems relating to certain plant environments. They come together with classification systems, taxonomies, forms of collecting and display, as in the case of botanical gardens. Not only knowledge, but also aesthetic categories have been (and will continue to be) an eminent factor in the processes of the perception, description, cultivation and appreciation of plants. Artistic production and aesthetic practices based on or relating to plants are thus fields that deserve further exploration across time and space, be they historically driven by religious approaches, political interests, romanticizing views, modernist thought or eco-activism.Candidates
Applicants should have obtained their master's degree or their doctorate (within the last seven years prior to their application) in one of the relevant disciplines. Applications are welcome from all regions, with various disciplinary formations, such as Art History, Aesthetics, Archaeology, Anthropology/Ethnology, History and neighboring fields dealing with artifacts, artistic production, material culture, and aesthetic practices relating to objects, images, languages and architectures. Applicants should be interested in engaging in reflexive and transdisciplinary research. 4A Lab fellows are given the opportunity to pursue their individual research projects within a transdisciplinary and transregional context. They are expected to engage in the program activities, such as regular seminars, workshops and conferences. In the overall context of the 4A Lab program and the framework of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the fellows will be part of a creative, intellectually stimulating and discursive environment. The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is an equal opportunity employer and particularly encourages applications from women and disabled persons.Fellowships
The fellowship starts on 1 October 2020 (9 months). In particular cases, shorter or longer fellowship terms may be considered. A possible extension of the doctoral fellowships up to an overall maximum of two years can be negotiated. The fellowships (including travel expenses) follow the guidelines of the Max Planck Society. Organizational support regarding visas, insurances, housing, etc. will be provided. Successful applicants become 4A Lab Fellows at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and at the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and are expected to take up residence in Berlin. The working language is English.
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