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Dissertationsprojekt von Francesca Valentini

Mapping Aesthetic Space: Reconsidering the Book in Contemporary Art
(Working title)

What is the ontological status of a photographic image of an art work? Is it a document or something more? What is its role in the world of art-historical and critical reflection? How are these images implemented to represent artworks within the pages of art books and exhibition catalogues and how to present works within the pages of artist’s books? What is the role of such publications in contemporary art? These are the central questions of this research of which the main aim is to investigate how three- and four-dimensional artworks, such as sculpture, installation, and time-based art, are (re)presented through the medium of the book.
Providing an historical and ontological frame to the ostensive categories of the art book, the artist’s book and the exhibition catalogue, this study aims to no longer discuss the multifold spectrum of art books and catalogues as byproducts of actual artworks, but rather as interrelated instances of their realization. An in-depth analysis of the status of photographically appropriated three- and four-dimensional artworks, as well as of the features and potentials of the medium of the book, will permit the questioning of the concept of representation and broadening the dialectics between the art book, the artist’s book and the exhibition catalogue in order to show the potentiality of art publications and their relevance in contemporary art.

The works of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and American artist Matthew Barney have been identified as ideal case studies to verify, substantiate and expand the intuitions behind this research. They have been chosen for the extreme contradiction that develops between their nature and the potentiality to (re)present them properly through the pages of a book. Barney’s artistic practice is mainly related to performance, installation and moving images, while Eliasson’s works are characterized by their kinetic and perceptive implications. Both artists pay unprecedented attention to the conception, production, and distribution of their publications which thus acquire a fundamental significance within their artistic practice, a strategic function within the art-system, and a key role within the art historical discourse.


Short bio

Francesca Valentini studied Cultural Heritage Sciences (BA 2006, State University of Milan) and specialized in History of Modern and Contemporary Art (MA 2009, Ca' Foscari University-Venice in cooperation with IUAV University-Venice, Université François Rabelais-Tours, and Harvard University). Since January 2012, she has been conducting doctoral research as a fellow of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne in joint affiliation with the Research Doctorate in Philosophy at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. In addition to her academic training she has worked for: Mulas Archive, Milan (scientific collaborator, 2008-2009); Merz Foundation, Turin (Coordinator of the Education Dept. 2009-2010); INHA-Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris (scientific collaborator, RETIF Project, Fall 2010); La Biennale di Venezia (Research and Public Programs, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015); The Museum of Modern Art, NY (Curatorial Intern, Media and Performance Art Department, Fall 2012). Within the frame of a.r.t.e.s. curricular activities she conceptualized and organized the conferences "Arts, Humanities and the Value of Interdisciplinary Thinking, a.r.t.e.s. PhD Candidates present their research in Venice," Ca’ Foscary University-Venice, May 22–24, 2013; "In and Around Photography," University of Cologne, July 8, 2011 (together with a.r.t.e.s. fellows J. Schaffer and J. Schulte); as well as the lecture "Drawing and Knowing", held by Prof. Dr. Dr. Roberto Casati (Institud Nicod | CNRS-EHESS-ENS, Paris) at the University of Cologne on January 26, 2012.

As a member of the team of the a.r.t.e.s. gallery, she co-curated the show "Transformations" (a.r.t.e.s. gallery, University of Cologne, May 11 – June 10, 2011), curated the show “Matteo Pericoli. Drawings from Within” (a.r.t.e.s. gallery, University of Cologne, January 26 – April 5, 2012; San Sebastiano, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, May 22 – July 31, 2012) and was responsible for the concept and the organization of "100 Ideas on 100 Thoughts, an International Research Project focused on dOCUMENTA(13)" (Spring-Summer 2012). She is Editor in Chief of the journal Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy and collaborates as a free-lance editor with different art magazines. For selected conferences, papers and publications see academia.edu.

Contact: francesca.valentini(at)uni-koeln.de


Selected publications

"Tino Sehgal's 'Constructed Situations': the Tension of Immaterial Production," in You were not expected to do this: On the Dynamics of Production (Distraction/Interference - Resistance/Accident), eds. Daniel Blanga Gubbay and Elisabeth Ruchaud (Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf University Press, forthcoming).

"L’opera d’arte e la sua rappresentazione fotografica: Calder di Ugo Mulas," Rivista di Estetica (forthcoming).

"Can Light write Art? Some Reflections on the Relationship between Photography and Sculpture," in Mack. Kinetik Kinetics, eds. Susanne Titz and Jee-Hae Kim (Düsseldorf: Richter 2011), 117–121.

"Book Review: Exhibiting the New Art 'Op Losse Schroeven' and 'When Attitudes Become Form' 1969, London, Afterall, 2010." in Tracce in Bianco e Nero (Maggio 2011). http://www.connectingcultures.info/menu-secondario/art-soup/tracce-in-bianco-e-nero/maggio-2011.

"Book Review: The Original Copy. Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2010." in Tracce in Bianco e Nero (Aprile 2011). http://www.connectingcultures.info/menu-secondario/art-soup/tracce-in-bianco-e-nero/aprile-2011.

"Conversazione. Richard Flood e Matthew Barney, trans. by Francesca Valentini," in Olga Gambari (ed.), Matthew Barney, Mitologie Contemporanee (Torino: Hopefulmonster, 2009), 124–138.


Selected talks

“Embodied Rhetoric: Tino Sehgal’s Immaterial «Constructed Situation» (with Emanuele Caminada) (on conference: Building Consensus. Rhetoric between Democracy and Conflict, Università di Palermo (April 18, 2015)

“Tracing Ostensive Categories: Art Book // Artist’s Book // Exhibition Catalogue” (Kunsthistorisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, April 21, 2014)

"Tino Sehgal's «Constructed Situations»: the Tension of Immaterial Production"
 (on conference: You were not expected to do this: On the Dynamics of Production, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, April, 3 2014)

“The Intellectual Frame of the ‘Artist’s book’” (IUAV Università di Venezia, March 21, 2014)

“Focus on Tino Sehgal” (on conference: Two Shots: Between Media and Performance Art, Scuola dottorale interateneo in Storia delle Arti, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Università IUAV di Venezia, Università degli Studi di Verona, June 13, 2013)

“Mapping the Aesthetic Space: Reconsidering the Book in Contemporary Art” (on conference: Arts, Humanities and the Value of Interdisciplinary Thinking, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, May 24, 2013)

“Formen der Existenz innerhalb und außerhalb gegenwärtiger Kunst” (on conference: Existentia, ART ET FAKT | Kunstverein Leipzig, April 20, 2013)

“Interpreting Alexander Calder: Ugo Mulas’ Strategies of Representation” (Poster on conference: CIHA 2012 – The Challenge of the Object, Nurenberg, July 15-20, 2012)

“Dis//Appearing in the Dark. Tino Seghal This Variation at dOCUMENTA (13)” (on conference: 100 Ideas on 100 Thoughts, Universität zu Köln, July 12, 2012)

"Ugo Mulas’ photographs: art critic through photography" 
(on conference: In and Around Photography: a symposium to discuss and share researchers, methodolgies of study and new approaches on photography, a.r.t.e.s. Forschungsschule, Universität zu Köln, Juli 8, 2011)

"Can light Write Art? Some reflections on the relationship between Sculpture and Photography"
 (on conference: KINETIK VOR UND ZURÜCK. Neue kunsthistorische und restauratorische Beiträge zum Werk von Heinz Mack, Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, May 28, 2011)



Summer semester 2013

MA course "Collecting, Exhibiting, and Researching: Artistic Positions and Curatorial Concepts since 1945" with visits to different museums of the NRW region and a 10 day grand tour from Cologne to the 55. Venice Biennale (Kunsthistorisches Institut, University of Cologne, together with Prof. Dr. Ursula Frohne and Dr. Lilian Haberer).

Winter semester 2013/14, summer semester 2014 and winter semester 2014/15

MA Course “Italian Language and Culture”, Sprachlernzentrum (SLZ), University of Bonn.


Titelbild: Olafur Eliasson, TYT (Take Your Time), Vol. 2, Printed Matter (Cologne: Walther König, 2009); http://www.heimannundschwantes.de // Portraitfoto: Roman Oranski