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Contact Zones: A Relational Case Between Photography and the Acquisition Channels in the Museological Context. The Work of Nora Aslan and Inés Lombardi Framed Within Mumok’s Collection

Project leader:
Claudia Sandoval Romero

3 years

Funded by:
Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)

Claudia Sandoval Romero, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.12.2021 – 30.09.2022

In the two decades between 1998 and 2018, a decade on either side of the 2008 global economic collapse (Brown 2015, Temin 2010), mumok - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien acquired the work of three female artists from Latin America. Two of these artists use photography as their expressive medium (mumok 2018, 2019).

My dissertation examines the representation of female visual artists of the Global South at mumok through the acquisition of photographic works of Argentinian artist Nora Aslan (born in Buenos Aires, 1937) and Brazil-born artist Inés Lombardi (born in Sao Paulo, 1958).

My research engages with the thesis that photography by female artists has found more entry into the mumok collection than work by female artists in other mediums of visual art. This thesis will be critically analyzed through the five works acquired by mumok between 1998 and 2018, which are connected by the geopolitical translocations the works themselves encountered, or those faced by the artists that produced them before the pieces reached their final destination in mumok .

I will investigate the ways in which these two female photographers are framed within the entire acquisitions of mumok over the specified timeframe (mumok 2018, 2019), and inquire the positioning of female artists, their countries of origin and their expressive medium within the collection and exhibition program of mumok over the same period (Sandoval Romero 2020, 2021).

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory will provide the theoretical basis for this analysis (cf. Bourdieu 1989, 1995, 1995a, 2000 and 2010, Jurt 1995, 1998, Kastner 2009), specifically to investigate the role played by peripheral instances such as the Global South and the female in relation to the center of the art field (cf. Acha 1993, 2004, Buchholz 2016 and 2018, Buchholz, Wuggenig 2005, Buenaventura 2012, Canclini 1999, Kastner 2007, Lagnado 2000, Munder, Wuggening 2012, Steyerl 2011, Traba 1974, 2005, Wagner 2007).

My research is located in fields of visual culture and the sociology of art, which are based on a critique of power and dominance, and complemented by a feminist and post/decolonial approach (cf. Butler 1999, Crenshaw 1998, Lugones 2007, Haraway 2016).

My doctoral thesis will contribute to the cultural-scientific discourse on the representation of female visual artists of the Global South from a subjective-critical perspective, through addressing questions on representation, positioning in the artistic field, and power relationships within the museological context. In doing so, the thesis also contributes to debates about loss, mourning (Pollock 1999) and restitution of the denied position for women in the art field.