Choreographies of the masses in soccer stadiums, cultures of dwelling in housing blocks in the periphery, encounters with audio-visual artworks in the classical museum setting, activist interventions in public space, migration movements across Europe – the list of scenarios where the spatial, the social, and the sensorium condense is almost endless. In this summer school, we will approach this wide range of topics with very specific methodology. Thinking through the interdependence of the spatial, the social, and the sensorium aims at gaining new insights into how artistic and cultural practices connect to urgent societal phenomena, such as the search for identity, inequalities in urban policies, or the global economic crisis.
The openness of the topic facilitates discussions beyond disciplinary approaches, as questions concerning the spatial, social, and the sensorium figure in many disciplinary fields: art, architecture, art history, anthropology, sociology, and media theory. The 3s also correspond to per se transdisciplinary research fields as for instance museum, urban and material studies. Furthermore, for the last years, they have informed major scientific changes: the spatial turn in the social sciences (Warf/Arias 2009), the social turn in art (Bishop 2012, Bradley/Esche 2007), and the material turn in feminist/queer theory (Bath et al 2013) and film/media studies (Birtwistle 2010). They have also inspired a nascent interest in artistic research, and ‘other’ forms of knowledge (Borgdorff 2011, Hirschauer 2008). In these shifting contexts, the summer school combines a series of divergent positions, critical approaches and contestations to discuss overall issues as the meaning of material matters, the politics of participation, or the knowledge of the body.
However, most assessments of politically engaged artistic and cultural practices still often privilege structural and content-based readings and tend to neglect their concrete spatial, social, and sensorial conditions in the analysis. This research gap is also symbolized methodologically when primary visual or discourse-oriented methodologies as image analysis or interviews in the arts and humanities prevail. Methods as for instance artefact analysis are still much less employed and need to be refined for the specific research context. The goal of the summer school is to investigate, transfers and apply theoretical concepts and methodological approaches on the spatial, the social, and the sensorium that prove useful to explore cultural techniques that render social situations significant, materially engaging, affectively intense, and thus powerful.