Media Library, Objects, Plants, Practices

Angela Nikolai: Naturally Functional? Moritz Meurer’s Teaching Aids between Theory and Practice

Angela Nikolai’s talk within in framework of 4A_Lab Online Seminar, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz/ Max-Plank-Institut.

Angela Nikolai

Angela Nikolai’s talk took place on October 13 2020 in the framework of 4A_Lab Online Seminars.

Drawings, casts, naturalia or photographs are ranked among the standard repertoire of artistic training. While their didactic effectiveness – learning to see, to draw and to compose in a predetermined manner – is widely premised, decisive aspects like materiality and media specificity, discursive contexts and networks of production and above all the relation of factuality, intended function and usage of teaching material have only recently been attracting attention.
Following this interest in the media culture and practices of art education, the presentation contrasts the predominant functionalist reading of didactic aids by emphasizing their material, technical, aesthetic and semantic properties as exemplified by the teaching collection for comparative plant studies, which was conceived and produced by the artisan teacher Moritz Meurer and his workshop between 1891 and 1910. Starting with a short tour of the mixed media ensemble containing preserved specimens, casts, bronze models, prints, electroplating and photographs the presentation will then focus on the methodological problem of historizing the practices of working with these teaching aids. By discussing measures as well as institutional and structural framings of the objects, that seem to have been crucial for ensuring their envisioned purpose, the presentation not only hints at the “Eigensinn” (H. P. Hahn) of pedagogic objects and thus counters their assumed a priori functionality and self-evidence. The talk also attempts to develop an approach to gain insight into the black box as which the object-based social and epistemic practices and processes of arts and crafts education are still being described.

About the author:

Angela Nikolai is a PhD candidate at FU Berlin. She studied Art History, Medieval History and Modern History in Munich, Paris and Berlin. Before joining the 4A_Lab, Angela was a Research Assistant at the Center of Advanced Studies “BildEvidenz. History and Aesthetics” (FU Berlin) and at the Cluster of Excellence “Image Knowledge Gestaltung” (HU Berlin). She held internships at the print collections of the Musée du Louvre and the British Museum and contributed to the preparation of exhibitions in London, Tübingen, Berlin and Wetzlar, where she completed a curatorial traineeship (2011-2013). In 2017, she co-curated the exhibition “Form Follows Flower” at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin.

Contact: 4A_Lab@khi.fi.it