Memory as the Subject and Instrument of Art Studies

International Sarabianov Congress of Art Historians

The first congress focused on «Memory as the Subject and Instrument of Art Studies». In the past decades this theme was at the centre of Dmitry Sarabianov’s scholarly interests. As a point of departure we want to suggest several ideas from Sarabianov’s book Russkaya zhivopis. Probuzhdenie pamyati (Russian Painting. The Awakening of Memory. Moscow, 1998):

  • «... it is a matter primarily of identifying the intrinsic innermost national traditions of Russian art and culture as a whole, hidden from the outside view yet capable of manifesting themselves at some stretch of history, at times against the artist’s will and in conditions quite unlike those in which those traditions took shape.» (p. 8)
  • «Art itself — apart from the artist’s will — has the ability to remember.» (p. 22)
  • «About «the innermost or latent traditions»: «They can be described as the awakening of memory, more often than not occurring unconsciously, or rather subconsciously, the awakening of ideas buried deep in time and in many cases rooted in religious concepts, in the Eastern Christian interpretation of different phenomena of the world, and in church legend.» (p. 21)

The conference objectives:

  • to provide a regular venue for the discussion of fundamental and topical problems of art study methods;
  • to promote new approaches to the study of the modern and latest history of Russian art;
  • to work out new lines of research into the national specifics of Russian art and its interactions with world art;
  • to facilitate the integration of Russian art studies into the mainstream of contemporary art studies, philosophy and history;
  • to help expand the boundaries of traditional art studies and provide the theoretical base for interdisciplinary approaches to studying art.

An international conference gave scholars inside and outside Russia a chance to discuss a broad range of topical problems of culture of modern and latest times in an interdisciplinary context, and to assess anew the place and role of Russian culture in European history. The forum of domestic and foreign art historians aimed primarily to develop new approaches to the study of Russian art.

  • The following themes were proposed for discussion at the conference:
  • memory and art functioning mechanisms;
  • archive, museum and collecting as memory strategies;
  • origin, migration and transformation of subjects and images in modern Russian art;
  • amnesia and the destruction of tradition;
  • theory of memory as a philosophical concept and its impact on art;
  • memory and art study methods.

Materials of the First International Sarabianov Congress of Art Historians

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