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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Stories in Transfer. Material Myths and Material Knowledge in Motion

Iris Wenderholm1, Barbara Welzel 2, Valérie Kobi 3
Universität Hamburg - Hambourg (Germany), 2Technische Universität Dortmund - Dortmund (Germany), 3Université de Neuchâtel (Switzerland)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The section is intended as a methodological contribution that transfers Michael Baxandall's concept of the period eye (Baxandall 1972) to questions of material and materiality and thinks them through further. Materials require knowledge in order to be perceived as such, in order to be measured in terms of their – pecuniary, theological, cultural or social – value and to be assigned an origin. Accordingly, as Baxandall has shown, materials are an integral part of the communication between clients and artists as well as between recipients. The next step is to ask about the knowledge bases with which the different materials were linked. Which learned patterns of perception and competencies shape the reception of the materials of art objects – for example, when merchants almost involuntarily think about the value of certain materials (Franke/Welzel 2012), when theologians associate well-rehearsed interpretations, when dealers frame the origin stories of the materials through the lens of travelogues. Assuming the historical conditionality of art perception, the section examines the ways in which material is classified and interpreted, and questions the conditions of professional and social affiliation, gender and cultural background.

The section focuses on materials that are transferred into a new cultural context through trade or exchange. It touches on the question of how these "travelling" objects and materials are connoted through intercultural and interconfessional transmissions of myths of origin. The reception and meaning of materials changes when local myths or natural history content are projected onto them. It can be observed that the gap that arises when encountering unknown new materials is filled with extremely heterogeneous bodies of knowledge. For example, stating that a certain type of stone comes from Corinth or from Asia invokes a specific horizon of meaning. Which existing narratives are applied to materials, which new stories are created? What is the purpose of such a construction of material myths?

Exchange is understood here as both non-violent and violent transfer of objects and narratives. While there is evidence of non-violent exchange in the sense of the exchange of trade objects in the Hanseatic area, in South America we must speak of a violent transfer. In this sense, the section examines both "sluices" such as Novgorod and Christianising "gatekeepers" in which power-political narratives are central.