International conference | What Art History? In memoriam Piotr Piotrowski


8 & 9 December 2016
Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art, Cankarjeva 15, Ljubljana

Participants: Edit András, Manuel Borja-Villel, Catherine David, Ekaterina Degot, Okwui Enwezor, Charles Esche, Beáta Hock, Tímea Junghaus, Magdalena Radomska, Peter Weibel, WHW

Detailed programme

The international conference is organized as part of the accompanying programme of the Igor Zabel Award 2016 by the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, in collaboration with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory and ERSTE Foundation. It is taking place at the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, on Thursday, 8 December, 10.00 – 18.00, and on Friday, 9 December, 10.00 – 11.30, preceding the Igor Zabel Award 2016 ceremony.

The conference is organized in honor of Piotr Piotrowski (1952–2015) and his in-depth art historical research on (modern) art from Central and Eastern Europe, which he explored and promoted throughout his work as an art historian, professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, and also director of the National Museum in Warsaw. Piotrowski was also a collaborator of Moderna galerija as one of the advisors for the Arteast 2000+ collection, established by the Moderna galerija in 2000. For his scholarly achievements he received the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory in 2010.

The conference is related to two of Piotrowski’s concepts – horizontal and comparative (global) art history and the critical museum. It will be introduced and concluded with two key-note speeches, presented by two important figures in the contemporary art world, Okwui Enwezor, curator of documenta 11 and present director of Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Manuel Borja-Villel, director of Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.

In searching for what kind of art museum and art history are needed under the challenging contemporary conditions, renowned international curators and art historians will discuss in two panel talks on the first conference day. Participants of the panels are: Edit András, Catherine David, Ekaterina Degot, Charles Esche, Beáta Hock, Tímea Junghaus, Peter Weibel, and WHW.

According to Piotrowski, horizontal art history begins as the deconstruction of vertical art history, that is, the Western-centric and the “universal“. In contrast, horizontal and comparative (global) art history is polyphonic; it supports locally specific art histories and puts them in a global perspective through comparing the specific structures and meanings of art. It investigates interrelations instead of opposition and hierarchy between centers and margins/peripheries, and also among (global) margins/peripheries, but at the same time questions the (historic) notion of the center.

Piotrowski's idea of a critical museum will serve as a starting point to re-think current problems related to museums, and re-consider the topical debates about global histories.

The Igor Zabel Award is organized by ERSTE Foundation and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory. The fifth edition of the award and its accompanaying programme is organized in collaboration with Moderna galerija.