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Central Saint Martins

A Vision for Europe

A scan of a book with images of St Paul's cathedral

Academic responsibility and action in times of crises

Led by CSM with the Warburg Institute (University of London) and in conjunction with project partners the Bilderfahrzeuge Project, this project explores the critical question of academic action and responsibility in times of crisis.

Principal Investigator: Mick Finch
College: Central Saint Martins

Project summary

‘A Vision for Europe: Academic Responsibility and Action in Times of Crises’ focuses its enquiry on the scholarly use of image-led practices to comment on and shape political reality. Central to this enquiry is a unique engagement with the little-explored material archive of British Art and the Mediterranean (BAM), a photographic exhibition curated by Fritz Saxl and Rudolf Wittkower in England in 1941, which asserted Britain's cultural connections with Europe. The project brings together artists, historians, media theorists, curators, journalists, photographers and activists to reactivate this unique archival resource and to make it accessible following the methodology of the digital humanities.

The BAM exhibition was organised by the Warburg Institute and leveraged a European history of art through new media, namely photographic reproductions of historical artworks, expressing ideas of cultural continuities between Britain and Europe at a critical time of conflict. That BAM's curators were refugee scholars in Britain is all the more relevant today, opening an exploration of the migration of knowledge which will be investigated in two ways: as an object of historical study and as a barometer of how politics have impacted on the movement of scholars, particularly in the 20th century. What examination of this rich archive offers is the opportunity for concrete analysis of an historical example of scholars engaging with the crisis of their time, which opens up space to discuss and challenge narratives of national histories and questions of academic action and responsibility.

‘A Vision for Europe’ reactivates and documents a historical source using digital interfaces - website, social media, video-streams – and utilises the untapped BAM archive to address themes of academic responsibility and action, migration of knowledge and intellectual history, technologies of reproduction and dissemination, image-led practices and academic impact, and archives of conflict.

Led by Principal Investigator Mick Finch (CSM), with Co-Investigator Joanne Anderson (The Warburg Institute, University of London) and Project Partner Johannes von Müller (Bilderfahrzeuge - Max Weber Stiftung), the project enables critical engagement with the future of academic action and responsibility via public-facing events in London, Munich and Rome, in the form of exhibitions, a workshop, study day and a conference. ‘A Vision for Europe’ was awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC Network Grant).