Projekti eesmärgiks on uurida, kuidas on Eestis 19.–21. sajandil loodud teadmisi kohalikust kunstipärandist. Lähtepunktiks on tõdemus, et eri aegadel on samu kunstiteoseid ja arhitektuuriobjekte esitletud erinevalt, neist on konstrueeritud erinevaid ajalugusid, mis omakorda on olnud publiku kunstiajalooliste arusaamade ning kunsti kogemise aluseks. Kunstiajaloolist teadmist kujundati mitte üksnes kunstiajalookirjutuse vaid ka „kunstiajaloo sündmuste“ – teoste eksponeerimise ja kommenteerimise kaudu. Projekt otsib vastuseid küsimusele, milles kunstiajalugude erinevused seisnevad ja millised on olnud nende kirjutamise/ eksponeerimise mõjutegurid, sh poliitiline ja ideoloogiline kontekst, rahvusvahelised erialased diskursused ja kohalik kunstikirjutuse traditsioon. Seega analüüsitakse ajaloolisi kultuurisituatsioone ja kultuurivahetust, mis päranditõlgendusi tingivad ja loovad. Metodoloogiliselt toetub projekt teadmiste sotsioloogiale, diskursuse- ja ajalookirjutuse analüüsile.
The main objective of the project is to examine the process of historicizing art by means of art historiography and knowledge production (writing of art histories, exhibition practice etc.) in Estonia from the 19th to the 21st century. Throughout times same works of art and architecture, as well as entire narratives of local artistic development, have been presented in various ways and assembled into surpisingly differing histories. These, in turn, have formed the basis for understanding and perceiving historical art in the society at large. The project aims to explore how these juxtaposing art histories relate to and differ from one another, and how politics, ideologies, the international discourse of art history and local historiographical tradition have affected these different interpretations. Thus the project sets one of its tasks also to study the historical cultural situations and transnational cultural exchange that have brought these particular perceptions of heritage about.
The primary result of the project is new knowledge gained about the theoretical grounding and practice of writing art histories in Estonia during 19th–21st centuries. Our focus also included art criticism and art exhibitions in Estonian museums, both of which are alternative means of writing – and popularising – art history. On such a scale this topic has not previously been neither addressed nor analysed. As part of our project, two international conferences were organised (a third one to follow in early 2020), three seminars on the ways of rewriting (art) history were held, many scholarly articles and essays were written, and three dissertations came close to being finished. Our research is essential also from the perspective of humanities at large and to a wider audience, because our close reading of the various interpretations across a long time span can be applied to cases way beyond art history. Problems such as the belonging of heritage, one’s own vs. the ʻother’, the dependence on ideologies are topical and appealing to a wider readership than solely those interested in the art historiography of any given period. As PI, I am especially proud of the series of conferences that we initiated and organised with highly respectable partners (Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and GWZO – Leibniz-Institute für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa, Leipzig). These have been on art historical writing in the Socialist countries during the Cold War. The one in Tallinn, ʻArt History and Socialism(s) after World War II: The 1940s until the 1960sʼ (2016 Oct.), resulted in the edited collection ʻA Socialist Realist History? Writing Art History in the Post-War Decadesʼ that we have just sent off to print, to be published by Böhlau Verlag in Vienna. Members of our research team also contribute to the second collection, based on the follow-up conference in Leipzig.