Julia Alting | Historical Time and Chronology in Art History: Reviving A Nonlinear Approach | University of Groningen, Department of Art History and Archeology | Prof. Dr. Ann-Sophie Lehmann (RUG), Prof. Dr. Hanneke Grootenboer (Radboud) | September 2021 – September 2025 | j.alting[at]rug.nl
This PhD project assesses a nonlinear approach to art historical time. While many studies since the 2000s appeared from a feminist and queer theory perspective focussing on time and history, the question of the authority of linear chronology has only recently been taken up again by art historians. Following recent philosophical scholarship by feminist theorist Victoria Browne, I argue that more conceptual research is necessary to address what understanding art historical time as nonlinear could mean, and how it could be put in practice. Dominant temporal structures often operate in obscured ways: a first objective of the research is to highlight the importance of implicit time conceptualizations. A second objective is to investigate the consequences of a nonlinear conception of historical time for the discipline, asking what possible narratives open up if we do so. To address this question I will first trace nonlinear ideas of time proposed by art historians (reviewing). Then I will analyse narratives of retroactive canonisation of women artists (rewriting). Thirdly I look at curatorial approaches that make use of notions of nonlinear time (remixing), and lastly I look to decolonial contemporary art practice in which nonlinear notions of time come to the fore (rethinking). While the starting point for this project entails a historiographical perspective on the politics of the discipline’s temporal structures, this research speaks to current curatorial and museological concerns and helps to formulate art historical approaches that do not adhere to linear, teleological, Hegelian concepts of time.
Image: Breathlesspray, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, edited with twitter screenshot by Julia Alting.