Images of Europe Beyond Europe
Against the backdrop of global exchanges in so many areas, this project explores external images of Europe – the multifarious images produced outside of Europe that existed in the past and still exist today.
The premise for this research project, which will culminate in an exhibition with a catalogue and an accompanying academic publication, is that Europe is not a homogenous, stable entity but rather a relational variable that has always needed an Outside, an Other, to understand itself. However, precisely this form of self-understanding feeds into the external images that are of interest here – be it in the form of Congolese ivory carvings, Japanese woodblock prints or Indian miniatures.
While Europe's self-images are much more frequently discussed – and under particular scrutiny in the current political debate – the aim of this interdisciplinary endeavour is less to confront those self-images with external images of Europe than to view them side by side as a means of arriving at a more complex, more nuanced overall image and, by focussing on said external images, to question or at least to recalibrate self-images in Europe. It is of particular importance that any such investigation into external perspectives on Europe should not be seen as navel-gazing, that is to say, merely displaced or delegated Eurocentricism, which still insists on regarding everything outside Europe as 'peripheral'. On the contrary, the intention is to 'provincialize' Europe (Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton NJ, 2000), that is to say, to facet or even fragment views of Europe and to juxtapose the ensuing different views and positions as equals; this in turn will become the basis for the synchronic and diachronic formation of as detailed as possible an image of Europe, which will demonstrate both the interdependence and the permeability of external images and self-images. To this end the first task is to identify findings that already exist in various disciplines concerning antiquity, cultural history and art but that have hitherto received little or no attention in an art history that is first and foremost posited on Europe and North America, to debate these findings and to validate, enlarge upon and/or differentiate them. The ultimate goal here is accordingly – and not least – both to make a substantive contribution to an art history that strives to be relational and to enrich the current debate on the advantages and dangers of a 'global' art history by introducing a polyphonic strand that is as focussed as it is concerted and that, picking up on recent developments in the humanities, could best be described as 'entangled art histories'.
Publications (thematic selection)
Matthias Weiß, "Gottesmutter oder Muttergöttin, schwarz oder weiß? Oder: Warum sich Beyoncé Pregnant with Twins als Plädoyer für Verflechtungs-Kunst-Geschichten lesen lässt", in Kritische Berichte 47/1, 2019, pp. 45–57.
Exchanging Gazes. Between China and Europa 1669–1907. For the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, ed. Matthias Weiß, Eva-Maria Troelenberg and Joachim Brand. Petersberg: Michael Imhof 2017. Contributions by: Cordula Bischoff, Wang Ching-Ling, He Feng, Claudia Kanowski, Wang Lianming and Matthias Weiß.
Matthias Weiß, "Verschränkungen eigener und fremder Blicke. Die "europäischen" Bauten des Yuanmingyuan im Spiegel chinesischer Kupferstiche sowie deutscher und amerikanischer Fotografien", in Exchanging Gazes. Between China and Europa 1669–1907. For the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, ed. Matthias Weiß, Eva-Maria Troelenberg and Joachim Brand. Petersberg: Michael Imhof 2017, pp. 116–139.
Matthias Weiß, "Weiße Frau in wessen Kleid? Alte und neue Betrachtungen zur Odaliske anlässlich der bemalten Fotografie "Legend" von Pierre et Gilles" in Um/Ordnungen. Fotografische Menschenbilder zwischen Konstruktion und Destruktion, ed. Klaus Krüger, Leena Crasemann and Matthias Weiß, München: Wilhelm Fink 2010, pp. 193–218.
Matthias Weiß, "Madonna im Kimono. Hybridität und Transgression in den japanoiden Videoclips "Nothing Really Matters", "Paradise (Not For Me)" und "Mer Girl"", in Differenz – Transgression – Hybridisierung. Zum kulturellen Umgang mit Grenzen, ed. Hans Rudolph Velten and Kathrin Audehm, Freiburg: Rombach 2007, pp. 249–271.