Laboratory for Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art

The Laboratory of Visual and Cultural Studies was established in 1999 at European Humanities University in Minsk by researchers Almira Ousmanova and Andrei Gornykh. In 2013 the Laboratory was merged with the Center for Studies of Contemporary Art (CSCA, managing directors Lena Prents and Aliona Glukhova), and was renamed Laboratory for Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art. The Laboratory hosts research seminars, scientific conferences, summer schools, creates educational, multimedia and art-projects.

Visual culture and contemporary art is an interdisciplinary field which emerged at the crossroads of philosophy, semiotics, cultural studies, sociology, gender and postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, film theory, sociology, and art critique. This interdisciplinary paradigm presupposes a complex exploration of contemporary visual culture employing methodologies of visual text analysis as applied to different types of visual ‘texts’.

Main areas of studies by the Laboratory

  • Analysis of forms and meanings of diverse visual practices defining the peculiar character of the today’s culture (cinematography, television, advertisement, art, public art, urban space, new media).
  • Exploring the theoretical approaches to studying visual culture and their critical potential for analysis of the today’s visual practices.
  • Problems of vision and visuality in the European philosophy and social sciences (epistemological, anthropological, and ideological aspects).
  • Uncovering the specifics of Soviet and post-Soviet visual practices, their relation to the dominant ideologic projects, their historical determinedness, formal aesthetic aspects, and transformation of the content of visual discourses.
  • Problems of teaching the disciplines related to theory and methodology of the visual image analysis (with regard to diverse social issues and disciplinary methodologies) and, more broadly, the didactical use of visual images (visualization, etc.).
  • Problems of medialization and promotion of the academic knowledge in the multimedia format.

During 2004 until 2010, the Laboratory implemented an international research and educational project as part of a regional seminar (Re-SET Higher Education Support Project: 2004–2006; Rethinking Visual and Cultural Studies: new subjects, methods, and teaching strategies, 2007-2009; Visual Studies of Immedia: Exploring the Postmodern Immediacy of mass media, 2010; Discipline and Method: on the theoretical identity of Visual Studies, 2010). The seminar focused on research into visual culture in the post-Soviet region and the methods of teaching visual culture disciplines in the universities of the region. Eleven international seminars featuring around 30 post-Soviet university professors took place within the project realization period. A number of prominent theorists, including Michael Ann Holly, Keith Moxley, Steven Melville, Mark Poster, Janet Wollf, James Elkins, Scott Lash, Laura Mulvey, Thomas Elsaesser, et. al., lectured as part of the project.

On May 3–25, 2012, the Laboratory implemented the “ARTES LIBERALES, or reflexion non-stop” project in Minsk, aimed at promoting the idea of liberal arts education as exemplified by the EHU. Forty-five various events (lectures, seminars, presentations, round table discussions) and four exhibitions in photography, design, and history,took place as part of the project. Project coordinator – Almira Ousmanova.

Membership in associations

  • Member of the International Association for Visual Culture Studies, which was established in 2010. Since 2010, we are also members of the European network of academic programs in visual culture (Visual Culture Studies in Europe).

Publications:

Book series on visual and cultural studies (launched in 2003)

  • Горных, А. Медиа и общество. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2012. 346 с.
  • Элкинс, Дж. Исследуя визуальный мир / пер. с англ. – Вильнюс : ЕГУ, 2010. – 534 с.
  • P.S. Ландшафты: оптики городских исследований. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. Н. Милерюс, Б. Коуп. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2008. 474 с.
  • Белорусский формат: невидимая реальность. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2008. 552 с.
  • Гендер и трансгрессия в визуальных искусствах. Сборник научных статей / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ; М.: ООО «Вариант», 2007. 218 с.
  • Визуальное (как) насилие. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2007. 380 с.
  • Би-текстуальность и кинематограф / под ред. А. Усмановой. Минск: Пропилеи, 2003. 188 с.

Multimedia publications, short films and documentaries:

  • 2005–2006: A series of short films for LAD TV channel: Minsk, the Invisible City; and, Culture of Consumption
  • 2006: Differentiation Lines in Arts History (created by Ala Pihalskaya)
  • 2008: Representation of World War II in the Soviet cinematography between 1940s–60s (by A. Gornykh)
  • 2010: Television as a means of knowledge production (by A. Gornykh)
  • 2012: Participation in production of 24 episodes of the In-Between TV program (EHU program created for BelSAT channel)
  • 2012: Multimedia disc: Visual Studies in the Digital Age

Team:

  • Almira Ousmanova – director, Prof., Ph.D.;
  • Andrei Gornykh – Prof., Ph.D.;
  • Lena Prents
  • Viktoriya Kanstantsiuk
  • Yuliya Martinavichene
  • Natallia Nenarokomova
  • Victoria Musvik
  • Dmitry Boichenko
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