Current issue: Vol 4(1)

“Studies in Visual Arts and Communication –
an international journal”

Volume 4 – Nr 1, 2017

Table of Contents

June 2017; 4(1)

Barnaby Drabble & Federica Martini – Ecole cantonale d’art du Valais / Sierre, CH

Sentimental Museography
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


This article explores the affective significance of three curatorial projects realized between the 1960s and the early 1980s, plucked from a still un-assembled history of exhibitions in which collections of ever-day objects form the starting point for emotional, imaginative and at times narrative reflections on museology. The activities of the authors of these ‘museums’ can be seen as working somewhere between social and personal histories, between high and low culture, between private and collective memory, and between nostalgic and impulsive registers. Some commentators have termed them artists’ museums, but they are not exclusively assembled by artists. Others have filed them under institutional critique, even though in many ways they refer not to the modern museum, but back to its precursors; the Wunderkammer and Kunstkammer of the pre-rational age. This paper is written in the context of renewed interest in exhibition experiments substituting institutional museum visions with curatorial individual narratives and fictional acts. It considers, by way of an analysis of the three selected projects, how atypical collections and the narratives they convey configure affect. We argue that the deinstitutionalizing voice in these projects, which rephrases the activities of collecting and curating as, at once, subjective, convivial and sentimental, opens up possibilities for new communities of feeling and sensibility.

Keywords: Modern Art, Contemporary Art, Alternative Museums, Artists’ Collections, Exhibition History, Curating, Affect, Wunderkammer, Institutional Critique.

Biographical notes

Dr. Barnaby Drabble is a curator, writer and researcher with a focus on contemporary art and particularly experimental and avant-garde exhibition history and curatorial theory. Since 2009, he is a part of the faculty of the MAPS Master Program at ECAV. He has curated numerous independent projects including exhibitions, screenings, discursive events and events in the public space. In 2010 he was awarded a PhD by the visual and cultural studies department of the Edinburgh College of Art for his research into participatory exhibitions. The research and archiving project, Curating Degree Zero, co-initiated with Dorothee Richter in 1998 -­ 2008 has attracted attention for its role in assisting research into alternative approaches to exhibition making of the past 15 years. Since 2009 Drabble is managing editor of the Journal for Artistic Research, the first peer-­reviewed journal for the identification, publication and dissemination of artistic research.

Federica Martini, PhD, is an art historian and curator. She was a member of the Curatorial Departments of the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Musée Jenisch Vevey and Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts/Lausanne. Since 2009, Martini has been head of the Master programme MAPS at the ECAV/Ecole cantonale d’art du Valais/Sierre, and is part of the collective standard/deluxe, Lausanne. In 2015-16 she was a research fellow at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma. Together with Elise Lammer she initiated the Museum of Post-Digital Cultures (2012-ongoing) and with Julie Harboe she conceived the SARN booklets, an editorial series on artistic research. Recent publications include: “My PhD is my art practice. Notes and insights on the art PhD in Switzerland (with P. Gisler, 2017); Vedi alla voce: traversare (2016); Publishing Artistic Research (with B. Drabble, 2014); Open Source and Artistic Research (with B. Drabble, 2014); Tourists Like Us: Critical Tourism and Contemporary Art (with V. Mickelkevicius, 2013); Pavilions/Art in Architecture (with R. Ireland, 2013); Just Another Exhibition: Stories and Politics of Biennials (with V. Martini, 2011).

Alexandra Midal – HEAD Genève

Penser par les images: Subliminal Thinking
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


Pratiquer un esperanto des images compréhensible par tous est au coeur du projet de projections d’images réalisés par Charles et Ray Eames (Harvard, Norton Series@6, 1971). Réalisations étonnantes, elles reposent sur la conviction que l’idée peut prendre la forme d’une image, et son horizon peut la délivrer du langage. Dans les faits, l’avalanche d’images et le rythme intense des projection des Eames ne permet pas aux spectateurs, même les plus attentifs, de les appréhender convenablement. Par conséquent, le message des films ne peut prétendre se placer au niveau de l’intelligibilité et de la logique. En ne sollicitant que la vue, on peut se demander que veulent  communiquer les Eames ? Le langage est-il si peu nécessaire ? Et quelle est la nature de cette transmission ?

Ce rapport à l’image (pédagogique avec Art X, 1953 et grand public avec The Information Machine, 1962) représente-t-il une extension corticale, une parodie des Situation Rooms (Colomina, 2001) ou une expression politique (Turner, 2013) ? Une telle profusion ne relève-t-elle des expériences de manipulation mentale développées au cours de la guerre froide avec les artistes (MK Ultra) ? Les liens entretenus par Eames avec IBM et George Nelson qui travaillent pour l’armée, n’ont-ils pas influencé le montage des Eames ?

L’objet de cet essai consistera non seulement à examiner cette oeuvre méconnue des Eames, à mesurer l’effet de ce dispositif sur l’inconscient et la psyché des spectateurs, mais surtout à dévoiler de nouvelles lignes de force entre leur oeuvre et les recherches en manipulation mentale qui se déployaient dans les laboratoires américains. On se demandera enfin si ces projections ne livrent pas une inintelligibilité volontaire proche des images subliminales, et à quels desseins ?

Mots clés: Mind Control, Dispositifs, Images subliminales, communication visuelle, Eames, Nelson, Education by images, Design, Projection, Films, Montage, CIA.

Cet essai a bénéficié du soutien du FNS/SNF pour le projet de recherche : Mind-Control.

Biographical note
Alexandra Midal, PhD, Professor in history and theory of design HEAD-Genève / University of Art and Design, Geneva (Switzerland). Ph.D Supervisor, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale (EPFL), Lausanne. Guest lecturer, Cours d’histoire de l’art, Musée d’art Contemporain (CAPC), Bordeaux. Research interests: Design and Politics, Visual Culture, Mass Media, High and Low, Mind Control, Visual Arts and Science, Design and Cinéma, Outcomes of the Industrial Revolution in their cultural forms such as Danse Machine & Weimar Republic, Serial Killing in Pre-industrialized America.

Fátima Chinita – Theatre and Film School, Lisbon

The Power of the Frame upon the Viewer: Multiple Perspective Seduction in Peter Greenaway’s The Tulse Luper Suitcases Trilogy
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


In The Tulse Luper Suitcases trilogy – Part 1 The Moab Story (2003); Part 2 – From Vaux to the Sea (2004); Part 3 – From Sark to Finish (2004) – Peter Greenaway plays with the tension between three- and two-dimensionality. His digital cinema, which superimposes several layers of images and sounds, uses the frame as both instrument and theme of a meta-cinematic discourse on media and the way they interrelate with other media. Drawing especially from painting and theatre, Greenaway rejects the Renaissance monocular perspective in favour of a haptic visuality that alternates between depth and flatness, between single-framed tableaux and multi-framed composite images. The result is a hybrid, a sort of “imploded” narrative, as disruptive as it is engaging. Although dismissing the traditional Western visual paradigm in general, and the classical analytical montage in particular, Greenaway nevertheless bases his practice on some of the most renowned aspects of the continuity editing style, if only to undermine them. This critically revamped editing is aesthetically and cognitively seductive, acting upon the viewers’ fetishistic attraction for the medium, as well as over their affects and senses.

Keywords: Frame, Multi-layering, Multi-frame, Two- and three-dimensionality, Senses, Immersion.

This article was financially supported by FCT, under the Post-Doctoral fellowship programme SFRH/BDP/113196/2015.

Biographical note
Fátima Chinita, PhD, teaches Film Studies, Film Narrative and Film Production in Lisbon’s Polytechnic Institute, at the Theatre and Film School. She is currently doing a joint post-doctoral research in Intermediality and Inter-arts studies at Labcom.IFP/University of Beira Interior, in Portugal, and IMS – Intermediality and Multimodality Centre/ University of Linnaeus, in Sweden (Växjö).

Miguel Mesquita Duarte – Institute of Art History, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

Reading Georges Didi-Huberman’s Devant Le Temps: History, Memory and Montage
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


This article focuses on the critical and explanatory analysis of Georges Didi-Huberman’s Devant le Temps (2000), here considered as a pivotal work of his extensive oeuvre. Devant le Temps extends some of the most important aspects explored a decade earlier, in Devant L’Image (1990), establishing numerous contact points with some of Didi-Huberman’s later works, namely those dedicated to Aby Warburg and the subject of the atlas in the history of art. Through the interweaving of these different moments, we seek to analyse some of the concepts governing the theory of art history and of aesthetics developed by Didi-Huberman, stressing some key concepts such as image, time, memory, anachronism and symptom. That way, we will also communicate with several important authors who directly, or indirectly, influenced the practice of the history of art advanced by Georges Didi-Huberman.

Keywords: Georges Didi-Huberman, Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, Carl Einstein, art history, time, image.

Biographical note
Miguel Mesquita Duarte. PhD in Contemporary Art History, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (FCSH/UNL). He currently is an integrated researcher in the Contemporary Art Studies Group at the Institute of Art History of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities(IHA/FCSH/UNL). His work was published, among others, in Photographies (2016), Aniki: Revista Portuguesa da Imagem em Movimento (2014; 2016), Studies in Visual Arts and Communication (2014).

Martina Caschera – University of Chieti-Pescara “G. d’Annunzio”

Chinese Cartoon in transition: animal symbolism and allegory from the “modern magazine” to the “online carnival”
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


By definition, the cartoon (satirical, single-panelled vignette) “reduces complex situations to simple images, treating a theme with a touch of immediacy. A cartoon can mask a forceful intent behind an innocuous facade; hence it is an ideal art of deception” (Hung, 1994:124). As well as their western counterparts, Chinese cartoonists have always based much of their art on the strong socio-political potential of the format, establishing a mutual dependence of pictographic material and press journalism. From a media perspective, the present paper shows how Chinese cartoon developed from 1920s-1930s society  ̶  when the “modern magazine” was the most important reference and medium for this newly-born visual language – to the present. Cyberspace has recently become the chosen space for Chinese cartoonists’ visual satire to take part in an international public discourse and in the “online carnival” (Herold and Marolt, 2011:11-15), therefore replacing magazines and printed press. Through emblematic exempla and following the main narrative of “animal symbolism and allegory”, this paper intends to connect the historical background with cartoonists’ critical efficiency, communicative tools and peculiar aesthetics, aiming at answering to questions such as: how Chinese modern cartoon changed, from the first exempla conveyed in “modern magazines” to the latest online expressions? Is its original power of irreverence still alive and how did it survive? How modern (Lu Shaofei, Liao Bingxiong) and contemporary (Rebel Pepper, Crazy Crab, Ba Diucao) cartoonists have been dealing with governmental intervention and censorship?

Keywords: Visual Culture, Popular Culture, cartoon, satire, censorship, cyberspace

Biographical note
Martina Caschera. PhD in Chinese Literature. Adjunct Professor of Chinese Literature at the University of Chieti-Pescara, “G. d’Annunzio” (ITA). Research interests: (Chinese) Visual and Media Studies, Chinese Literature, Transcultural Studies, Comics Studies, Gender Studies.

Nava Sevilla-Sadeh – Tel-Aviv University

Opening Raffi’s Box: Neither a Sabra, Nor a Geranium
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


As an artist distinctively identified with the currents of conceptual art, Raffi Lavie (1937-2007) was one of the most influential artists on the Israeli art scene during the 1970s and 80s, and also represented Israel at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Although much has been written on his artistic work, it has remained enigmatic, given that his signifiers are deliberately vague. Lavie’s case was defined by the historian of Israeli art, Gideon Ofrat, as “Raffi’s Box”, in equivalence to the mythological Pandora’s Box, as an issue ostensibly not to be decoded. This study examines four collages created by Lavie from the beginning of the 1980s, composed of photos of Classical images. The accepted interpretations have conceived these images as declaratively meaningless and as worthless pieces of history; from the premise that all that remains from the Classical past is but a lexicon of banal and depleted images. The argument underlying the present study is that, rather, these very images are the signifiers of the abstract meaning claimed of Lavie’s work, as contended by most of his commentators, and even expressed by him in a certain way. This research, which belongs to the field of Classical Reception Studies, offers a critical analysis achieved via a deconstructive methodology, according to which the Classical images are conceived as a supplementary or parasitic text within the main text, present in order to reaffirm the accuracy of the latter.

Keywords: Israeli art, Conceptual art, Classical art, Classical reception studies, Platonic thought.

Biographical note
Nava Sevilla Sadeh (PhD) is an art researcher and lecturer at Tel-Aviv University. Her research interests include Greek and Roman art through a philosophical orientation; mythological mosaics from a neo-Platonic perspective; Classical reception studies—the Classical presence and influence in contemporary art.

Efrossyni Tsakiri – School of Architecture, Technical University of Crete

Visual palimpsests: city atmosphere in cartography, city planning and painting
Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2017 4(1)


Atmosphere is a mysterious property of urban space that can be sensed only by personal experience. People describe it as a particularly intense and imposing emotion. The concept was born in the ‘50s, together with the distinction between space and place. Place, a meaningful space, is discussed in the context of human psyche, perception, feeling, attachment, in psychology and philosophy. By extension, atmosphere in psychogeography is an important factor of urban place that reflects people’s feelings about it. But although atmosphere for Situationists is an experiential property that can be attributed only to the lived and not to the represented space, geographer E. Relph argues that an individual can also connect to places and develop feelings about them through fantasy and artistic representations in a state that he defines as ‘vicarious insideness’. In Urban Visual Culture, all images that represent the city and its multifarious content are mediums for the experience, perception, understanding of the urban, the development of feelings and attachment to it, in other words, they can create an atmosphere. This study will follow with the examination of atmosphere in European city representations.

In the paper, I will use semiotics to illustrate the mechanism an individual experiences the atmosphere of a European city representation with artworks from city planning, cartography, and painting. I will analyze: a) View of Florence with the Chain by Francesco Rosselli (1480), b) Römische Ruinenlandschaft by Paul Bril (1600), c) City of Truth by Bartolomeo Del Bene (1609), d) Via Appia by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1756), e) Evening on Karl Johan Street by Edvard Munch (1892), f) New York City by Piet Mondrian (1942) and g) London functional analysis map by Patrick Abercrombie (1944). I will argue that while the viewer elaborates consciously the theme and the graphic motifs, unconsciously he/she receives sensual, emotional, and ideological data, carried by the expressive means of the representation. Geometric shape, line, colour, layout, etc. create senses, feelings, ideas, related to the wider historic and philosophical context, the worldview of the representation. An encrypted impression is then created, a palimpsest that consists of superimposed layers of meaning. The ‘emotional aura’, of that impression is ‘atmosphere’, which enriches the perception of the represented theme and graphic motifs. Because atmosphere is a cryptogram, I describe the representation of cities as ‘visual palimpsest’.

Keywords: urban visual culture, city planning, cartography, painting, semiotics, atmosphere, palimpsest

Biographical note
Efrossyni Tsakiri. PhD student (final stage) at the Laboratory of Urban Design, Division of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Architecture, NTUA (National Technical University of Athens). Academic scholar at the School of Architecture, TUC (Technical University of Crete), teaching subject: architectural design. Architect (Diploma, School of Architecture, NTUA 1998), urban designer (Town Planning and Urban Design, The Bartlett, UCL, 1998–2002), visual artist. PhD Thesis Title: The City Image. Representation mechanisms in architecture, urban design, cartography and painting.