An Inter-Institutional Platform
for PhDs, PostDocs and ECRs in
Architectural History and Theory,

Landscape and the City



2024 PROGRAM
The talks take place on Tuesdays at 4 PM CET, 10 AM EST
unless indicated otherwise
(this program is constantly updated; please check regularly this page).


︎
Regular Talks
︎︎︎Link︎︎︎

30 April 2024
MAHNAM NAJAFI, LEO HERRMANN
7 May 2024
FARHAT AFZAL, HALEH HAJYASINI
14 May 2024
LAURA MUCCIOLO, MICHELE RINALDI
21 May 2024
FIONA KENNEY, PIERGIANNA MAZZOCCA
11 June 2024
SARAH AZIZ, JACOPO ZANI
25 June 2024
FEDERICO CAMERIN, MARIA KOUVARI
1 October 2024
ANNA ULAK, SHUYI YIN
22 October 2024
WU MENGHANG
15 October 2024
EDMOND DRENOGLLAVA, ROBIN HUEPPE


︎
DocTalks x MoMA
︎︎︎Link︎︎︎

9 April 2024
JAMES FORTUNA, ALICE POZZATI
28 May 2024
SHEHRAZADE MAHASSINI, SAMARTH VACHHRAJANI
4 June 2024
CHIARA TOSCANI, KIRA CLINGEN
18 June 2024
MARJANA KRAJAČ

8 October 2024
STEFANO TORNIERI, SEAN THOMAS TYLER

TBA
DÁMASO RANDULFE, JOÃO CRUZ


︎
Lightning Talks
︎︎︎Link︎︎︎

24 September 2024
ELEONORA ANTONIADOU, ALBERTA PISELLI



18 June 2024
DocTalks x MoMA 
Session 5
9 AM EST / 3 PM CET

Unfolding Spaces: Avant-Garde Environments, Experimental Choreography, and Politics of Space in Milana Broš and Dubravko Detoni's 'La voix du silence' at the 1973 Music Biennale Zagreb


MARJANA KRAJAČ
Ohio State University

Respondent: Stelios Giamarelos, The Bartlett UCL


Music Biennale Zagreb 1977, "Carrousel," Vinko Globokar.

This paper investigates the intersection of the politics of space, experimental music, and improvisational choreography in Milana Broš and Dubravko Detoni's "La voix du silence," a site-specific performance created for the 1973 Music Biennale Zagreb. The paper examines "La voix du silence" as a specific environment of the avant-garde in Yugoslavia that activated public spaces through experiments in art, contributing to the development of the public sphere. As there are no archival recordings of it, the work is being reconstructed from fragments, peripheries, and memories, highlighting the relevance of choreographic traces as witnesses of spatial and political histories. "La voix du silence" was staged in 1973 as part of the experimental happening titled "Carrousel II," which brought together a large number of music ensembles, along with its first part, "Carrousel I." In 1977, the Biennale programmed a similar project titled "Carrousel," a large-scale composition by Vinko Globokar, and in 1979, "Urbofest," a program of site-specific happenings in experimental music across the city of Zagreb, curated by Nikša Gligo. By considering the relationship between public space and the avant-garde, this paper explores how the thinking space mobilized through experimental music and experiments in choreography expanded the possibilities of public spaces and their complex social encounters. Tracing the work's contribution to the archives of experimental choreography and contemporary music in Yugoslavia, this paper examines "La voix du silence" as an example of avant-garde experiments that have the potential to inquire into current social and political issues, particularly those related to public spaces and their archival, architectural, and social ecologies.





25 June 2024

From the Fascist Cult of Youth to Neoliberal Privatisation. The Multilayered Identities
Of the Fara Holiday Camp for Children
In Chiavari (Genoa)


FEDERICO CAMERIN
Universidad de Valladolid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Respondent: tba


A view of the refurbished Fara Marine Colony in Chiavari (Italy). Source: Enrico Pinna & Jacopo Baccani (2022).

This work analyses the process of metamorphosis experienced by the Gustavo Fara holiday camp (colonia Fara) in the Italian municipality of Chiavari (Genoa) from the 1930s until today.
The Modernism-inspired architecture –a listed building– was devoted to the Fascist cult of youth (1936–1940) and then to a territorial military hospital (1940–1943). After the German Organisation Todt occupation (1943–1945), the former colonia was transformed into the “Refugee Collection Centre no. 72” (1946–1955) to house approximately a thousand families of Italian exiles from Istria, Rijeka, and Dalmatia. Then, the building was renovated to become an international hotel (Faro Residence Centre; 1965–1972).
After six years of abandonment, the property was transferred to the Liguria Region: the area was partially reused as a primary school and became home to the Pro-Scogli nautical club (1978–1999). Eventually, the City Council’s rent-seeking approach refurbished the colonia Fara into the (private) luxury hotel “Torre Fara” (2016–2022), a tumultuous affair that experienced various appraisals and estimates of the property’s value, debate with heritage and environmental associations, court appeals, and calls for tenders.
Over 90 years, this architectural heritage has witnessed numerous historical layers that have not been made equally visible as the first (summer camp) and last (luxury hotel) functions. For this reason, the research delves into the multicultural and multilingual histories tied to various political spheres that have taken place over time in this piece of architectural heritage to critically interpret its evolution. The colonia Fara is the result of plural histories that have changed its skin, passing through multiple phases with as much as social, symbolic, and identity implications. Despite being seen as a Fascist difficult heritage in the post-1945, it had performed many public functions, but the privatisation led to the loss of many characters of the past.

***

The Heritage of Minors, Revisited


MARIA KOUVARI
ETH Zurich

Respondent: tba


Mümliswil Children’s Home, Switzerland, architect: Hannes Meyer, 1939, source of image: Bauten für die Jugend, Das Werk: Architektur und Kunst, 1953, photo by M. Wolgensinger.  
In 2012, the Mümliswil Children’s Home—a child therapy institution in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, built in 1939, designed by Swiss architect Hannes Meyer—was designated under protection in the canton’s monument inventory. Criteria for this classification were its architectural design, authorship, and progressive pedagogical concept, three aspects which have been celebrated in a great number of publications related to this object. One year later (2013), the Mümliswil Children’s Home was declared the First National Memorial for Children in Institutional Care (Heimkinder) and ‘Contract Children’ (Verdingkinder), attached as it is to a dark chapter in Switzerland’s social history, one associated with child labor, coercion, and abuse in institutional care. This presentation discusses the placing of children and their built environments within architectural history and how formal heritage processes have failed to address histories, stories, and memories of the children. Spaces and buildings designed for children, in their vast majority permanently built and monumental, have been documented, explored, and accordingly inventoried, due to their design, style, typology, and authorship, rather than examined in relation to their capacity to be lived in by children. Children—or minors, a term that implies the notion of minority—have attracted little attention within architectural history and remain an underrepresented heritage group. The presentation has been developed in the frame of my doctoral project entitled Minor(s’) Heritage, which forms part of the project “A Future for Whose Past? The Heritage of Minorities, Fringe Groups and People without a Lobby” at the Chair of Construction Heritage and Preservation, ETH Zurich in collaboration with ICOMOS Suisse, and which is kindly supported by the Sophie Afenduli Foundation and the Foundation for Education and European Culture.



TBA
Thursday
DocTalks x MoMA
Session 2

Miracles in Europe’s Orchard


DÁMASO RANDULFE
Royal College of Art

Respondent: tba


Restoration of a polychrome carving of the ‘Virgin of the Sea’, 1984.
Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute.


Exactly thirteen years after the Spanish Catholic Monarchs conquered the city of Al-Mariyyāt, a swirl of otherworldly lights appeared off its shores at the break of dawn. A premonition struck the coastal guards. Drawn towards the light, they were met by the divine figure of the Virgin Mary. From that moment, the city’s inhabitants have sought the protection of the Most Holy Virgin of the Sea against plagues, earthquakes, droughts, and other disasters afflicting this area of the Mediterranean.

This presentation travels between the Marian apparition of 1502 and the so-called ‘plastic miracle’ that took place in 20th-century Almería, when a vast geo-engineering experiment following Francoist internal colonisation plans transformed Europe’s only desert into its leading exporter of vegetables. Fuelled by the intensive exploitation of natural resources and precarised migrant labour, Almería’s operational landscapes are a well-established case study of the excesses of supply chain capitalism and its global infrastructures. Analyses of this agripole depict it either in a perpetually present tense as a blooming desert devoid of history, or as the culmination of a historical sequence of extractive cycles and territorial transformations. However, the region’s pasts—spanning land inscriptions and extractions, internal and international colonial enterprises, fascist massacres and radioactive pollution—also infiltrate this global agro-industrial enclave in eerily convoluted ways. Occurring across vastly different temporalities and degrees of visibility, these intrusions elude customary narrative and imaging strategies. To spell these spectral contaminations, this presentation charts not a sequence of events but a field of resonances, moving backwards and forwards while tracing two attendant trajectories: a surface-led inquiry of Almería’s fields as distributed sentient assemblages, and a depthward exploration of the subterranean consistencies haunting these landscapes today.

***

The City and the River:
Origin and Evolution of Lisbon’s Riverfront


JOÃO CRUZ
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Urbanas
da Universidade Nova de Lisboa
ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa


Respondent: tba


Praça do Comércio (Terreiro do Paço), Lisboa, Portugal.Horácio Novais Studio, [S.d.].
Gulbenkian Art Library.


In Lisbon, over the centuries, man has conquered the waters of the Tagus. Today, after the various landfills, the riverfront of the city is a consolidated strip of land, topped by walls that, against the “undulation” of the Tagus, define an expanded area that welcomes an intense port activity.
It was in this strip by the river that an important part of Lisbon's history took place, since the Roman and Muslim occupations, and also particularly during the period of the Discoveries, the post-earthquake Pombaline reconstruction and the industrial boom of the 19th century. Some of these historical moments are reflected in the numerous plans, charts and maps available in this study, from the Plan of the City of Lisbon: 1650, by João Nunes Tinoco, to the Port of Lisbon Improvement Plan, from 1946. In these plans, but also in handwritten letters, period reports, engravings and old photographs - largely unpublished documents -, which this research work proposes to map this territory, making original drawings that allow a new look at its growth processes and consolidation.
Thus, this study reconciles all these elements, constituting a complete analysis that focuses on the evolution of Lisbon's riverfront and that allows discovering numerous aspects until here unknown, helping to answer the question that arises today: in the face of the scenario that the current port is going through, how can Lisbon recover its ancient relationship with the river?



24 September 2024
Lightning Talks

Respondent: tba

Global Tools
An Inverse Ergonomics Experiment


ELEONORA ANTONIADOU
Royal College of Art

Elastic garments constrain the body. Casabella 411 (March 1976),
Courtesy Franco Raggi Archive, Milan
Source: Valerio Borgomuovo, Silvia Franceschini (2019) “Global Tools. 1773-1975.
When
Education Coincides with Life.” Rome: NERO editions.


In January 1973, at the editorial offices of Casabella magazine in Milan, Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi, Riccardo Dalisi, and members of Archizoom, 9999, Superstudio, UFO, held a gathering at which they founded Global Tools. The group aimed to create “a school but non-school “ focusing on arts and crafts, independent of an institution.  Coming from an anti-disciplinary attempt to establish a platform for the free exchange of different ideas and experiences, this was a place suited to stimulating individual creativity and the development of human potential. During its two-year life, the group experimented with various tools, processes, and instant learning.

This presentation will attempt to unfold the fragmented history of Global Tools’ life and shed light on its influence and protagonists as an action of learning. It will focus on the interactive aspect of the Global Tools workshops and the embodied experience that the group was aiming for as a tool for understanding and transforming experience into design. Using the lens of the body, the presentation will highlight the processes and learning methods that the group was using and place the group in the general wave of radical education of the 1970s. Bodies during this period built ephemeral structures, discovered the countryside, left the typical classroom to travel, partied, protested for better education, demanded gender equality, and questioned the institutions.
By highlighting the framework and ideas established by the group, this historical testimony seeks to raise the question of what we can learn and be influenced by while reintroducing the body as a tool in today’s architecture education.

***

The Zad of Notre-Dame-Des-Landes
Between Spatial Situations
And Affective Conditions


ALBERTA PISELLI
La Sapienza University of Rome

"Timeline of the struggle and mapping of the Zad of Notre-dame-des-Landes - State of occupied places, January 2024. Drawing by Alberta Piselli"

Ecological protests marksthe contemporary era and transform the landscape: north of the metropolis of Nantes, the Zad of Notre-dame-des-Landesis an example.The complexhistory of the struggle and the different levels of the territory (from a sociological, ecological, agricultural point of view) are widely discussed in French literature, in publications bybothscholars and activists. However, the transformative action of protest with respect to the affective dimension of places remains less investigated.Geographers Matthew Gandy and Ben Andersonintroduce the"Affective Atmospheres". Derek P. McCormack explainsthe concept of “Spectral Geographies of Material Remains”, defining them as a “distributed field of circulating affective materials”.  Starting from these premises, this article aims to discuss some spatial situations of the struggle, in parallel with some affective conditions. Direct visits to the territory today are aimed at capturing the atmospheric dimension of the landscape of protest.

La route de Chicanes–the D281 road–provides a spatialised chronology of the struggle, some images revealing the feeling of collective euphoriaduring the first occupations. An inventory of symbol-objects crowds the imagery of this street: wheels, pallets, car trolleys, etc.

Not differently, the same recycled materials describe the precarious condition of the ephemeral architectures that inhabit the Zad. They are physical devices designed to domesticate space: cabins that restore an affective condition of “claustrophilia”. Occupation is horizontal, just as the attitude of those who inhabit the Zad is one of wandering.

Moreover, the place suffers from the proximity of the metropolis of Nantes, it dreams of self-sufficiency but is porous and testifies to a conflictual relationship with the authorities. Inhabiting the Zad, in the past, meantliving in fear, resisting the pressure of the sound of sirens and drones, of evictions that exposed bodies to harsh conditions.

To cross the territories today meansto give voice to the spectres of the struggle, to make the past of a protest landscape resonate in the environment of the occupiers,to reveal the atmospheric depth of the landscape of protest of the Zad of Notre-dame-des-Landes.



1 October 2024

Dynamic Environments:
Contemplating Interpretations of Systems Dynamics,
from U.S. to Japan and Beyond


ANNA ULAK 

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Respondent: tba

As the concern for the degradation of the natural environment began to intensify during the late 1960’s-70-s -- a method to study its deterioration was visualized via the World Dynamics model.
Developed in 1971 by Professor Jay Wright Forrester (1918- 2016) and his team at MIT, the World Dynamics model was used to study the correlations between population, capital investment in agriculture, the economy, pollution, and the natural resources of the world. The model was based on systems dynamics, which Forrester founded in 1956. Systems dynamics was a relatively new method in which systems theory was applied to a variety of problems via an extensive use of diagrams and computation.
Presented at “The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm” World Dynamics was later challenged at the 1973 conference “Report from Tokyo” for maintaining the pattern and substance of existing power of the developed resource-rich nation states. Following the. 1973 conference, systems dynamics was later adapted by architect Kisho Kurokawa’s demographic studies of Japan and some of his urban/architectural work internationally in particular his study of San Salvo and Vasto, within the province of Chieti Italy.
A combination of literary and visual analysis will be employed to explore how the use of systems dynamics migrated from a westernized global stage into the Japanese perspective at the 1973 “Report from Tokyo” to the eventual application by Kurokawa, in Japan and Europe. Thus, revealing systems dynamics ideological nuances and striking similarities when analyzing its use in different contexts.
The focus on the application of systems dynamics in various cultural contexts explores how it was used as an object of authority where its multiple adaptations were projecting similar desires to preserve stable forms of power-- while simultaneously disrupting steady representations of natural environment, urbanism, and architecture. As such, new ways to gain influence to make such disruptions will be contemplated.

***

The Emergence of Photogrammetry in Monument Documentation and
Land Surveying, 1850s-1920s


SHUYI YIN
Columbia University

Respondent: tba

This paper, the first chapter of my dissertation, explores the emergence of plane table photogrammetry in the 1850s-1890s, a foundational development leading to 20th-century stereophotogrammetry and the contemporary ubiquitous use of digital photogrammetric methods in the monument documentation. It focuses on Albrecht Meydenbauer (1834-1921), the pioneer in the field who coined the term “photogrammetrie” in 1867. Meydenbauer’s revolutionary use of plane table photogrammetry and his development of related apparatuses significantly departed from traditional monument documentation methods, laying the groundwork for this technology’s evolution and use in monument documentation.
Meydenbauer’s leadership at the Royal Prussian Photogrammetry Institute (Königlich Preußische Meßbildanstalt) was instrumental in advancing photogrammetry in monument documentation, overseeing the survey of over 1,200 monuments across Germany and Europe and creating an archive of 20,000 photo plates. The paper examines Meydenbauer’s contribution within the broader context of 19th-century nation-building, monument politics, and land surveying. It also discusses other figures such as Aimé Laussedat (1819-1907), focusing on their techniques, particularly those applied in land natural environment surveying. The research not only delves into the socio-technical evolution of photogrammetric machinery and techniques, but emphasizes its impact on and reciprocation with monument documentation and land surveying. It reveals the interdependent and reciprocal relationships among these disciplines, demonstrating how development in one area propelled technological innovations in the others, all within a broader historical context. Central to this analysis is a recognition of the interconnected processes of key individuals, institutions, and other agents of change. The paper highlights the co-evolution of photogrammetric technologies, monument documentation, and land surveying and how these developments collectively formed a symbiotic network that reshaped each field.



8 October 2024
DocTalks x MoMA
Session 6

On the border: A story of river commons


STEFANO TORNIERI
Luleå University of Technology

Respondent: tba


Synchronic Collage of Fishing Landscape in Kukkola, Sweden. Collage by S.Tornieri.

The impact of contemporary megasystems and heavy resource extractions on extreme and marginalized territories can indeed have significant social, economic, and environmental consequences, often disproportionately affecting small communities. Are we losing those stories? Are we losing an essential way of life?

Throughout history, small village communities in the Arctic have developed several strategies to ensure their survival. Along the Torne River, on the border between Sweden and Finland, some fishing communities have produced specific architectures, landscapes, and social strategies to support their communities and survive for centuries. In the villages of Kukkola and Korpikylä, communities developed a distinct fishing system, which became known as dipnetting. Characterized by a single person fishing from the shore or off of specially constructed piers, dipnetting is a traditional, resource-sparse technique. Environmentally-friendly techniques have developed on the spot and remained unchanged for long, as described since the 20th century by the Finnish ethnologist T. Sirelius (Sirelius, 1906) who documented the fishing activity and the construction of several wooden piers at specific points of the riverbanks called Krenkku. This temporary structure is human-buildable and demountable, made from local wood and constructed every fishing season by the old builders. During the fishing season, the locals organize activities related to fishing such as building wooden piers, maintaining and repairing traditional village buildings, organizing fishing rounds and organizing the sharing events each evening during the whitefish season. During the whitefish season, from June to mid-September, the shift between fishermen during the day is organized by an informal meeting that occurs every day at 6PM near the river. During this event, considered a daily ceremony, the catch from the past 24 hours is shared between farmers. The community is still present today but depopulation, aging, climate change, and the expansion of the extraction industry are threatening these villages.

***

Yam Economies and Settler Improvement across Whadjuk Noongar Country


SEAN THOMAS TYLER
Estonian Academy of Arts

Respondent: tba

Part of the west coast of Australia, surveyed by the officers of H.M.S. Beagle [cartographic material] : with Captn. J. Lort Stokes' route into the interior Decr. 1841 / J. Arrowsmith
.
Today, stretching over 160 kilometres of Whadjuk Noongar Country in South-Western Australia, is the self-proclaimed longest city in the world, Perth. Single family homes and British pastoral parks are jutted up and down an ever-expanding peripheral urbanisation, where highly biodiverse and endemic ‘wild nature’ is ‘improved’ on through subdivision, clearing, fencing, and the construction of profit-oriented low density housing. This article draws on a specific history of colonisation and suburbanisation premised on land improvement, that has fundamentally reshaped relationships between society and land, first in Britain and then as these ideas travelled to Whadjuk Noongar Country. By tracing a history of first-nation warran (yam) economies buried within colonial and capitalist structures, the article aims to provide a lens through which to contest the inadequacies of prevailing orders and values towards land, to serve as a starting point in delivering truly inclusive and collective futures.



15 October 2024

Prishtina Shunning Critique:
An Encounter with Radical Architecture Movement


EDMOND DRENOGLLAVA
University of Cincinnati

Respondent: tba



The winning proposal for the Palace of Youth and Sports “Boro and Ramizi”, Prishtina, Kosovo. Source: Arhitektura, 1972

While several publications have been published on visionary architectural projects that were developed in Western, and Eastern Europe and in the United States, not enough attention has been devoted to Radical Architecture in the Non-Aligned Country of Yugoslavia, more specifically in Prishtina, Kosovo of that time. In fact, the formal similarities that existed between Western and Eastern visionary architectural proposals, can be treated as evidence of the Iron Curtain’s permeability on the level of artistic/architectural creation. Taking a project led by a woman architect, Ljerka Lulić, as a case study, I will endeavor to display a tendency toward a radical philosophy in Kosovo’s artistic and architectural practice in the 1970s. The project of interest is the winning proposal of the competition organized by the Republic of Yugoslavia, for the Palace of Youth and Sports in Prishtina (Fig.1.). In Kosovo, few were the projects and artists who used architectural vocabulary in their works to develop another discourse that offers an alternative vision of the reality of their times, thereby drawing attention to the social problems of the socialist state. However, the case of “Boro and Ramizi” clearly reflects the opposite, presenting the first attempt of the country to transcend the modern mentality.
The winning proposal for the Palace of Youth and Sports certainly conceives the idea to ascertain that Kosovo was viz-a-viz with the events that took place on the global stage. Studying the culturally and historically rich microcosm of Yugoslavia, including the Utopian thought of the 1960s and 1970s, provides a significant insight into the theory of the Radical Movement, and contributes to the Kosovar architectural thinking. Above all, such research positions the Kosovar society as a whole, towards a philosophy that has been present in the country but has never truly flourished.

***

POWER THROUGH THE LAND
Enmeshing the Rubble Mounds in
East and West Berlin's Housing Estates


ROBIN HUEPPE
ETH Zurich, LUS

Respondent: tba

In East and West Berlin, the towers of two mass housing estates meet their towering counterparts in the landscape. Two mounds stand out from the flat glacial plateau. Since German reunification, both estates have become places of arrival for refugee groups and newcomers, who identify these mounds as the main sites of leisure and encounter: views, fresh air, and dense vegetation.
Under the topsoil, the mounds conceal the material history of wartime destruction, territorial struggle, and erasure of place. Before the estates' construction in the 1960s and 70s, the land housed post-war agrarian households in self-constructed sheds, where refugees from seized territories and erased apartment buildings began rebuilding their lives. Both East and West demolished the existing structures to counter the dire housing shortage with mass housing schemes.
The rubble was heaped up nearby into hills, covered with topsoil, and transformed into local parks for the new residents. Since then, the rubble hills have undergone significant change, continuous reappropriation, and negotiation. Assuming a central role as green spaces in these neighborhoods, both governments consistently attempted to control the mounds through management and restrictions. Still, whenever governance was absent, the rubble (Latin: rudus) grew into rich ruderal ecologies on soft soil and gentle slopes that continued to attract poplars, trees of heaven, badgers, foxes, and humans.
Looking at the underexplored landscapes of East and West Berlin's housing estates through the two mounds reveals the land's historical record to mediate the interrelated complexity of population growth, migration, and their future potential to answer climatic changes through resilient, ruderal ecologies. This talk will follow questions of material history, revealing the institutional control exercised by subjugating and managing the land and the resistance of inhabitant alliances against this governing control.



22 October 2024

Performing Cosmology:
Reimagining the Relationality
between Human and Nonhuman
from Music and Dance Schemas in
Dunhuang Mogao Cave Murals


MENGHAN WU
Ohio State University

Respondent: tba

In the Buddhist murals of the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, there is a type of instrument suspended in the sky of the Pure Land, which produces celestial music spontaneously without the need for human performance. These instruments are adorned with colorful ribbons and float in the air, creating ethereal melodies. This form is referred to in Buddhist scriptures as “self-playing instruments(不鼓自鸣)”.The concept of “self-playing instruments” conveys the idea of expressing the echoes from the depths of the universe through the movement of objects. It emphasizes the spontaneity of nature and reflects a romantic artistic imagination and philosophical concepts that transcend human centrism. The “self-playing instruments” belong to the concept of “music and dance performer 伎乐” in the music and dance schemas in the murals which have long transcended the anthropocentric category. The concept of “伎乐” in Buddhism encompasses not only the creators of music and dance but also the nonhuman everyday performance itself, such as singing, instrumental music, dance, and various natural sounds (the sounds of trees and birds).
In the English-speaking world, research on dance schemas in Dunhuang murals is nearly blank. This study focuses on the analysis of dance schemas in the murals, aiming to fill this gap.
The research posits that dance schemas in Dunhuang murals goes beyond mere human movement forms and styles. I argue it is intricately connected with the sounds of trees and birds, lotus ponds, and Asparas, collectively forming a natural sound system within the mural scene.
Viewing dance images as part of this sound system transcends anthropocentrism in dance studies and provides insights into the in situ natural environment of Dunhuang cave. Therefore, the murals not only depict the utopian Pure Land environment but also seamlessly integrate it with the natural surroundings of the Dunhuang cave space. The dance schemas in the murals serve as a bridge between the idealized Buddhist world and the tangible natural landscapes, creatinga performative relationality between human and nature.



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