Intermediality: The Transformation of Art and Literature in the International Avant-garde 1945–75, as Referenced in the Nimai Chatterji Archive with Tate & University of Edinburgh
Principal supervisor: Prof Neil Cox (University of Edinburgh)
Second supervisors: Adrian Glew (Tate); Dean Hughes (University of Edinburgh)
The University of Edinburgh, in partnership with Tate, is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified applicant for a full-time collaborative PhD studentship focused on the extensive archive of the literary observer and passionate collector Nimai Chatterji (1933–2010).
Housed at Tate, the newly catalogued Chatterji archive contains a wealth of documents and objects relating to international avant-garde movements in the period 1945 to 1975. The project will re-examine the post-1945 avant-garde from the perspective of Chatterji, a Bengali-born collector and broadcaster, charting his interest in ‘intermedia’, a phrase coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins to cover new art that crosses boundaries of recognised media or even fuses the boundaries of art with media. The proposed research is intended to develop a critical and historical approach to the archive, engaging with its intermedial dimensions (for example, interactions between drawing and poetry, or between painting and theatre), and will include research into experimental and modernist literature, concrete and visual poetry, and specific groupings or practices including Lettrism, Oulipo, Pataphysics, Situationism and Fluxus.
The research may also reflect on Chatterji’s extensive broadcasts on culture for the BBC, as well as his interest in Bengali parallels with Western intermedia art, such as the Prakalpana movement. Initially intrigued by the cross-fertilisation of ideas within modernist Indian and English literature, Chatterji – once settled in the UK and exposed to the tumult of international avant-garde movements arising in the 1950s – merged his previous interests with an examination of the current transformation of art and literature within a wider cultural vanguard. The resultant archive collection, acquired by Tate in 2006, documents chronologically this evolving and deepening engagement by individual authors, artists and groups, creating a microcosm of primary, secondary and tertiary research materials through which the macrocosmic avant-garde can be better understood.
The partnership between Tate and Edinburgh has special significance for the intermedia aspect of this research project. In 1968 Hans Breder founded the first university programme in the United States to offer an M.F.A. in intermedia called ‘The Intermedia Area’ at the University of Iowa. Today the Edinburgh College of Art, part of the University of Edinburgh, is the only academic institution outside North America to offer a degree in intermedia practice (click here for more information). The expertise in this field at Edinburgh will support enquiry into the ways in which self-theorisation, publication and literary experiment in the mid-twentieth century went hand in hand with diverse forms of experimentation with visual practices, often bringing these two fields into confrontation and dialogue. Further areas that might be considered within this doctoral project include:
- Chatterji’s motivations in collecting the material, and the theory of intermedia art that informed so much of his thinking and characterised the practices concerned
- the relationship between documentation and art practice
- the structures of the archive as a mediation of historical and artistic phenomena
Applications should be submitted online to the Edinburgh College of Art (please use 11 September 2017 start date for online application). The application will need to include writing samples and a research proposal of c.1000 words in length. Please also send a covering letter to the Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office at email@example.com about your application and stating why you are applying for this particular collaborative opportunity and why you think your academic interests qualify you for this particular award.
For any queries about the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions relating to the doctorate please contact Professor Cox at email@example.com or Adrian Glew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application deadline: 10 May 2017
Interviews: 26 May 2017 at Tate Britain
Please note that candidates may be required to write a summary text as part of the interview process.
For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.