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Dr. Nina Wiedemeyer

Research Project

Precarious Things: Histories of Knowledge of Arts and Crafts and Provisional Arrangements as Objects of Knowledge    


Taking practices of arts and crafts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a point of departure, this project examines knowledge about things and with things in the working processes of arts and crafts. In the arts and crafts, things transcend boundaries of artistic practice and discourse: they become exhibitable and collectible (Gustav-Edmund Pazaurek curates a museum cabinet with ugly things), describable (Henry van der Felde builds a collection of thing-descriptions) and teachable (the founding of museums and schools); things become protagonists in art history (Gottfried Semper bases his art history “Der Stil” on everyday objects). With the founding of the Arts and Crafts movement, we have a situation in which artists and scholars must fight for the recognition and reflective self-awareness of their knowledge and develop forms for its dissemination. Part of this reflection was the barrier between implicitness and communicability—in part, through the invention of bad taste in arts and crafts and confidence in the ability of things to be carried over into the social sphere. Practices from the Arts and Crafts movement make it possible to provide a new foundation for an “art history of things.” Following up on this historical analysis, the project aims to develop in two directions: first, by focusing on contemporary art to ask how the boundaries between everyday objects and art objects can be maintained or destroyed; and second, by focusing on the analysis of thingness in the design process in arts and crafts, in which—through provisional solutions (from the Latin provisio, prevention or foresight), that is to say, by means of artisanal solutions and other objects that remain to be more exactly characterized—implicit and procedural knowledge becomes visible.

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Dr. Nina Wiedemeyer is an art historian and scholar in media studies who has worked as an author, editor, and curator for museums and exhibition agencies since 2008. With the support of a PhD scholarship from the DFG in the Research Training Group “Medial Historiographies” at the Universities of Erfurt/Jena/Weimar, she completed a dissertation about the medium of the book that is forthcoming with Diaphenes Verlag Berlin (Buchfalten: Material, Technik, Gefüge der Künstler/Bücher/). Additional publications relevant to the project: “Papierparasiten und lineare Schleier” (Paper parasites and linear veils), in Prekäre Bilder (Precarious images), ed. Robert Suter and Thorsten Bothe (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2010), 298–314; “Gefüge: Das Werkhafte der Arbeit” (Structure: the worked quality of work), in Arbeit: Sinn und Sorge (Work: sense and care), ed. Nicola Lepp and Daniel Tyradellis (Berlin/Zürich: Diaphenes Verlag, 2009), 299–349; “Parasitäre Vernetzung: Über das Ornamentale im Buchraum” (Parasitical networking: on ornamentation in the space of books), in Visualisierungen (Visualizations), ed. Ronja Tripp (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2007), 235–252; “Otto Dorfner,” in Zwischen van de Velde und Bauhaus (Between van de Velde and Bauhaus), ed. Mechthild Lobisch (Halle: Verlag Burg Giebichenstein, 1999), 82–162. Most recently: “Friedrich Kittlers Bücher: Die Montage stammt nicht vom Autor” (Friedrich Kittler’s books: the montage does not originate with the author), Archiv für Mediengeschichte 13 (2013): 63–73.


 „Friedrich Kittlers Bücher. Die Montage stammt nicht vom Autor“, in: Balke, Friedrich / Siegert, Bernhard / Vogl, Joseph (Hg.): Mediengeschichte nach Friedrich Kittler, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2013 (= Archiv für Mediengeschichte, Bd. 13), S. 105–116.

„Perspektiven für eine Geschichte des Kunstgewerbes“, in:, Onlinepublikation des Graduiertenkollegs „Das Wissen der Künste“, Nr. 1 „Wissensformationen und -praktiken“, Oktober 2013, URL:

„Darbovens Dinge“, in:, Onlinepublikation des Graduiertenkollegs „Das Wissen der Künste“, Nr. 2 „Opake Evidenzen“, Juni 2014, URL:

„Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Books“, in: Navigationen, Jg. 14, H. 2, 2014, S. 46–56.

„Hinterfangen. Faltungsgeschichte eines Bildmotivs“, in: Fisch, Michael / Seiderer, Ute (Hg.): Haut und Hülle. Umschlag und Verpackung. Techniken des Umschließens und Verkleidens, Berlin: Rotbuch Verlag, 2014, S. 58–72.

„Ästhetik des Provisorischen. Über Bricoleur und Provisoriker/in“, in:, Onlinepublikation des Graduiertenkollegs „Das Wissen der Künste“, Nr. 4 „das Provisorische“, November 2015, URL: