24. October 2019

"Bei uns zu Gast" - Julia Tatiana Bailey (Nationalgalerie Prag)

[Translate to English:] Vorstellung

Guest researchers from all over the world come to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in order to study on the spot at our museums and departments. Here they share an insight into their research.

[Translate to English:] Wer sind Sie und in welchem Bereich arbeiten/forschen Sie?

Who are you and what is your field of research?

My name is Dr Julia Tatiana Bailey, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery Prague (Národní galerie Praha). My primary research area is East-West artistic exchange during the period of the Cold War.

What led you to visiting the Dresden State Art Collections?

I spent a week familiarising myself with the Dresden State Art Collections as part of the Dresden Prague Exchange Program 2019 between the SKD and the National Gallery Prague.

© Julia Tatiana Bailey
Julia Tatiana Bailey

[Translate to English:] Am 29./30. Oktober 2016 folgte die zweite Tagung

Which object in our collections do/did you like best and why?

There are so many wonderful works in the SKD collection to choose from! However, one that stands out is from when I was lucky enough to spend a morning at the Kunstfonds, looking at works by artists from Saxony that were acquired during the GDR and continue to be added to the collection every year. I was particularly fascinated by Transall by Christiane Baumgartner (2002–04). Showing three military aircraft being refuelled, this huge sheet of paper gives the impression of being a digitally-printed photograph but is in fact a handcrafted woodcut, based on a magnified still of video footage. The work is technically exquisite and very impressive in terms of its ambition and as a record of the artist’s labour.

When you look closely, you can see the hundreds of lines created from handmade incisions on the woodblock, and the authenticity of the work is evidenced by the very faint dividing line from when the paper was pressed with two huge blocks. I found it a thought-provoking and beautiful blend of a traditional artistic medium and new digital technology. And the subject matter – based on a documentary image, a remnant of the visual culture of contemporary conflict – is something I’m very interested in and has been used to great effect in other recent photorealist works by German artists, such as the paintings of Gerhard Richter.

[Translate to English:] Welches Museum in Dresden (auch außerhalb SKD) hat Sie besonders beeindruckt und weshalb?

Which museum in Dresden impressed you most and why?

[Translate to English:] Which museum in Dresden impressed you most and why?

For me, it has to be the Albertinum, particularly the Galerie Neue Meister on the upper floor. The collection is very rich and I loved seeing new works by old favourites – such as Oskar Kokoschka, Lyonel Feininger and Otto Dix (especially his awe-inspiring triptych Der Krieg (War)) – as well as discovering interesting works by artists with whom I was unfamiliar – such as Hans Grundig’s triptych Das tausendjährige Reich (The Thousand Years Empire), Wilhelm Lachnit’s Der Tod von Dresden (The Death of Dresden), and the paintings of Wolfgang Mattheuer.

Gebäude des Albertinum von außen
© SKD, Foto: Klemens Renner

[Translate to English:] Die Tagung selbst

What relevance does your research project have for society?

During my week in Dresden, my primary focus was to explore the current debates about the legacy of the Nazi period and the GDR in German museums, in order to develop a plan for how the National Gallery Prague should respond in its displays and public programming to the Czech Republic’s own wartime experiences and Communist past.

[Translate to English:] Dieser Forschungsbereich

I think this research area is profoundly important for today’s society – because I consider a lot of the political challenges we’re seeing today in the region to be due to society’s difficulty in acknowledging parts of that history, fluctuating between demonisation, nostalgia and collective amnesia. I think museums should provide a space for us to confront our past and present in a safe environment. As a result, museum staff have a huge responsibility, because to a large extent they are the gatekeepers to the dominant historical narratives and have the ability to control how people think about who they are.

© SKD, Foto: Martin Förster
Diskussion und Forum "Zugang und Umgang mit Kunst aus der DDR im musealen Kontext" am 18.10.2018 im Albertinum

[Translate to English:] Ich war sehr beeindruckt

I was very impressed by how the SKD has developed clear and transparent policies that respond sensitively to Germany’s complex history, especially in terms of the investment in detailed provenance research and dedication to sharing this insight within the galleries.

[Translate to English:] What will the museum of the future look like (and what does this imply for your current research activities)?

What will the museum of the future look like (and what does this imply for your current research activities)?

What is remarkable is how little museums have changed over the last few hundred years, in comparison to the rapid pace of change in other areas of life. I've been very interested to watch how tech firms, such as Google and Artsy, have tried and failed to provide an online equivalent to the experience of visiting museums. This confirms to me that there is something very special about seeing original historical and contemporary objects in a dedicated space, so I think there will be a need and desire for physical museums for the forseeable future.

[Translate to English:] Tatsächlich scheint

In fact, the public enthusiasm for museums seems to be growing, alongside a broadening of the notion of what can appear in a museum, leading to the foundation of many new museums that cater to niche interests. I think new technology will play an increasingly important role within these buildings, in terms of architectural and graphic design of the galleries and interactives within the space, as well as enabling visitors to have a more individual experience.

© National Gallery Prague
Julia Tatiana Bailey

[Translate to English:] Ich freue mich

I'm pleased to see museums are becoming more interested in hearing what visitors think, rather than telling them what to think, so I hope that in the museum of the future there will be more user-generated exhibits, more space for debate and that the diversity of the audience will properly reflect the diversity of our society. At its core, my research aims to undercover forgotten or overlooked stories that help us to ask more questions about who we are and why we think what we think, with the hope that this encourages us to be more empathetic and accepting of others, so I'm pleased to see that the current direction of museums reflects my own aspirations for their future.