(Un)Mapping Infrastructures: Transnational Perspectives in Modern and Contemporary Art

Project: Research

Project participants

  • Dogramaci, Burcu (Partner)
  • Esner, Rachel (Partner)
  • Küster, Bärbel (Partner)
  • Langfeld, Gregor M. (Partner)
  • Lerm-Hayes, Christa-Maria (Partner)
  • Rother, Lynn (Partner)
  • Ruckdeschel, Annabel (Partner)
  • Smolińska, Marta (Partner)
  • Ströbele, Ursula (Partner)


This research group focuses on the infrastructures of modern art from a transnational perspective. The original meaning of “infrastructure” (from the Latin infra, and structura) refers to a substructure or ground, and to static constructions which, like nodal points, establish important lines of connection and guarantee supply. Applied to the arts, the term may be said to designate institutions such as museums, exhibition venues, biennials, private collections, production sites (studio, workshops, laboratory, academies, art schools) and universities but also funding institutions, publishers, and other (academic) authorities that contribute to relevant discourses, networks, and the publicizing of art.

Taking a transnational, non-Eurocentric perspective, the goal of this group is to critically question these infrastructures since the modern era, as well as to examine their possible alternatives. It will ask specifically about blind spots of the previous art historiography, multi-perspectivity, and interweaving stories, moving our understanding of modern art production beyond the dominant canon and narrative. Orders, spaces, and actors will be mapped in specific case studies in order to survey how technical, political, and economic conditions shaped the cultural field.

A series of separate workshops (2021–2023) will discuss themes such as production, transport, collecting, exhibition and display, promotion, publishing and critical discourse, and avoidance and appropriation as horizontal art history(Piotrowski). The core group of this research network brings together scholars from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland and welcomes especially contributions to the workshops and publication from researchers outside of Western Europe and North America.