Session 19

Dr Astrid von Rosen / Associate professor in Art History and Visual Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Dr Viveka Kjellmer / Senior lecturer in Art History and Visual Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Untitled Spaces: Scenography and Nordic Art History


In addition to undergoing considerable theorization over the last twenty years, the concept of scenography has expanded beyond traditional theatrical settings to potentially include all environments (McKinney and Palmer 2017). As expressed by Sodja Lotker and Richard Gough, “we perform scenographies and they perform us” in a co-creative exchange (2013). Although the situation differs across countries and academic and practice-related contexts, these changes have clearly borne fruit in artistic or practice-based research in a globalizing context. Within art history in traditional western contexts, scenography for the theatre has been a rather small topic, and the expanded concept does not as yet have any significant presence within the field.

In a Nordic context, however, we have seen an expanded scenography emerge in recent years as an art historical and interdisciplinary concept, perspective and topic. Various applications of scenography are being used to address complex multisensorial features in time, space, and cultural and personal imaginations, as well as in social and other kinds of structures. Art historians have for example explored processes of meaning-making in areas as diverse as live concerts, interfaces in digital fashion magazines, dance in public spaces, and costume as an artistic device, as well as in more traditional objects of study, such as baroque architecture or theatrical performances.

The purpose of this session is to create opportunities for a critical and constructive re-imagining of the contact zones and crossroads linking art history and scenography. We welcome papers drawing on recent research making use of or examining scenography or related concepts, as well as historiographical explorations. Papers should address questions such as:

  • How can the emerging and “untitled” scenographic spaces be conceptualized in and in relation to art history?
  • In what ways can various applications and understandings of scenography revitalize art history as a tradition and a discipline in transition?
  • How can scenography, as a way of thinking, be used as a critical tool for exploring art and visual culture and understanding them in a digital age?