Periodization as an Attempt at World-Making

Event: Public Talk within the International Seminar on Periodization

Location: NEC conference hall

09 May 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

Krista KODRES, Professor at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture, Tallinn

In the Soviet Marxist-Leninist art history discourse periodization was the outcome of the so-called historical materialism. There was a general world art history that consisted of Archaic, Slavery, Feudal, and Capitalist (and Communist) periods. Each of the periods had its distinct character that was determined by specific class relationships. As was the case, monopoly of interpretation of history presented itself as transcendental grandstand view, looking at history from above. In my talk I argue that, in principle, periodization belongs to the interpretation of the world, but can at the same time be viewed as a performance, and as a world-making practice (Wolfgang Iser). Curiously enough, the latter was exactly the intent of Soviet ideologues while periodizing art history. Secondly, I am going to ask about the practice of periodization of art history in the Soviet Marxist-Leninist discourse. I argue that when looking at periodization as interpretation the reasons of the failure of the Socialist art history discourse become obvious. As already noticed by Siegfried Kracauer in 1966: The shaped times of the diverse areas tend to overshadow the presupposed uniform flow of time. Because interpretation is genre-bound, it actually does not truthfully “match” with the ideological periodization imposed by the political regime.

Event supported by the Getty Foundation as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative