The IDSVA Topological Studies Program may be the only one of its kind in the world.
Borrowed from mathematics as well as Freud & Lacan, topology as we use the term applies to the structural relations of geographical spaces, especially as these relations inform our historical understanding of cultural consciousness and the cultural unconscious.
During first and second year residencies, students travel from one historically designated site to another. Each site’s historical designation situates the site within a given period and determines the order in which the site is visited. Residency site visits can last from one or two days to several weeks. Current sites, historical designations, and the order in which they are visited are as follows:
The residency site visits are to be experienced as successive historical strata that set up a three-level (topological) critique.
In the first place, each site is considered in terms of its historically designated period vis-à-vis art and ideas; secondly, the sites are considered in topological relation to one another (inter-textual critique); and thirdly, each site’s contemporary situation with respect to art and ideas is looked at as an extended moment in its historical development and in topological relation to each of the other sites.
The first residency begins in Rome, where students experience the art and architecture which testifies the city’s development as kingdom, republic and empire of the Ancient Western world, as well as its subsequent role as the center of religious power through the Vatican Museum collections. From Rome, they move on to Spannocchia Castle, in Tuscany. A restored eleventh-century tower and fourteenth-century villa and 1100-acre working farm, Castello di Spannocchia blends feudal traditions with the goings on of contemporary life. While living and studying at Spannocchia, students conduct fieldwork in Siena, and Florence.
As a banking city and site of incipient middle-class capitalism, medieval Siena stood in geo-political tension with the aristocratic/agrarian economics and cultural ethos that still informed a more strictly two-class social system at nearby Spannocchia. Students consider this tension in terms, for instance, of Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Governments, painted in 1338 in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico, adjacent to the city’s famous public square, the Piazza Del Campo.
In contrast with Siena, Florence represents the site where the Renaissance and early capitalism flourished. Students study first-hand the architecture and aesthetics of the 15th and 16th Centuries, through fieldwork at The Uffizi Museum and the Accademia di Belle Arti, where the Botticelli’s Venus is compared and contrasted with Michelangelo’s David.
In Venice students think about the city’s history as an early version of globalized markets and question the significance of architectural and artistic practices as the Renaissance gives way to Baroque ideas and aesthetics. This critique is set against the current role of the city as capital of the global art scene during the Venice Biennale, which is the focus of student’s activities. In 2015, IDSVA took part in the ‘Biennale Sessions’ with lectures delivered by distinguished scholars.
In Berlin, they look at how the Baroque shifts to early modern industrialized thought. And again, signs of these cultural mutations are to be discerned and felt in the architectural design of the city of Berlin as well as in the collections of art and cultural artifacts to be seen in the city’s museums and private collections.
In Aix-en-Provence, Modernism is exemplified by the work of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), the acknowledged precursor of a new way of painting that came full bloom in the early 20th Century. Places that became quintessential to Cézanne’s practice, such as the Mont Sainte-Victoire, are experienced on site, together with visits to the artist’s studio and dedicated lectures by world-renowned Cézanne scholars.
In New York City, students live and breathe the post-industrial urban experience. The Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney, are among the museums in which students conduct fieldwork, along with the Uptown and Chelsea galleries, artist studios, and other cultural sites.
In Athens, the rich heritage of classic Greek culture stands at the crossroads with the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman past, and the contemporary art scene. Students experience first-hand the monuments of the Acropolis as well as the collections in the New Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, the Benakis Museum, and other cultural sites.
At each of these places, world renowned philosophers, critics, and artists join in on a running discussion about the ideas and art forms that brought these places and times together in what remains an ever unfolding of the future
Museums & Monuments visited during the Topological Studies Program
Capitol Hill and Michelangelo Square
MACRO (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma)
St Peter’s Church
SMS – Santa Maria della Scala Museum
Venice Biennale (including off-site pavilions)
Punta della Dogana
Studio visit: Debra Werblud
National Archaeological Museum
Byzantine and Christian Museum
National Museum of Contemporary Art
The National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum
Islamic Art Museum
Museum of Greek Folk Art (The Mosque)
Cycladic Art Museum
Hamburger Banhof Museum
Neue National Galerie
Martin Gropius Bau
House of World Cultures
Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial
Berlin Philarmonic Hall
Studio visits: Vadim Zakharov, Franz Ackermann, Aura Rosenberg
Jas de Bouffan
Caumont Centre d’Art
Collection Lambert (Avignon)
The Whitney Museum of American Art
MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
Studio Museum Harlem
Museo del Barrio
(ICP) International Center for Photography
Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
Morgan Library and Museum
Park Avenue Armory
High Line Park
Issue Project Room
Studio Visits: Paul Bloodgood, Liam Gillick, Simonetta Moro