Transnational Art and Heritage Transfer and the Formation of Value: Objects, Agents, and Institutions
Sandomirskaja, Irina - Professor
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
This is a transnational multidisciplinary study of art and cultural heritage in states around the Baltic Sea and transregionally, with a focus on the notion of value and its formation in the production and transfer of culturally and historically significant artefacts. Participants are scholars from cultural studies, philosophy, art theory and history, archival studies, economics and economic history, cultural history, and history of ideas, joining their efforts towards an understanding of the complex relationships between economic value and various forms of cultural value. Georg Simmel declared aesthetic value to be prototypical for any other value, in terms of its formation, structure, experience, and practice. His other important postulate concerning value is that it only arises in the process of exchange – not prior to, neither after exchange, nor independent of it. In its turn, exchange produces territories and regions, but also helps transcend their boundaries. Art and cultural monuments, as objects of cultural inheritance, represent a particular class among other objects of value, that of affective objects. Their significance is not determined by their referential content but arises from the investment of meaning with collective will, interest, and individual desire. Affectivity manifests itself in the way the object materially incorporates, and symbolizes, the ideals of beauty or the collective notions of historical truth. Affective objects perform as powerful centres attracting cultural, political, and commercial interest. They constitute audiences, motivate the building of cultural institutions, and create new markets. By the community, they are cultivated and protected as the community’s collective inheritance and cultural capital. This project seeks to elucidate historical contexts and theoretical grounds to answer the question: how exactly transformations of value take place, through what kind of agencies, out of which epistemological and aesthetic premises, through what kind of negotiations, and towards what kind of social, economic, artistic, scholarly, and political interests. Another purpose is to understand how cultural values affect the formation of imaginary and political geographies in acts of material and symbolic exchange and how, in the processes of transfer, situated collective experiences and memories first receive significance as tokens of local histories and values, later to become invested with a universal, global significance.