„Untangling the lines of an apparatus means, in each case, preparing a map, a cartography, a survey of unexplored lands – this is what [Foucault] calls ‚field work‘.“ Gilles Deleuze, What Is a Dispositif?, in: Timothy J. Armstrong (ed.), Michel Foucault Philosopher, New York 1992, p. 159.

As a follow-up to the conference Exploring dispositifs, today., organized by Birte Kleine-Benne for the Institute of Art History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in June 2019, we would like to summarise the main ideas that emerged from our debate.

In light of the challenges faced by inclusive social systems due to hostilities against plurality, differences/differenciations and deconstructions, a renewed reflection on the responsibilites of art, art history and art theory appears necessary. 

From a retrospective view on the history of established artistic, art-historical and art-theoretical narratives, new research approaches emerge which should also be questioned regarding their function within the field of science policy and the social context in which they are situated.

This is why we advocate for a practice that does not consist solely of already existing knowledge, but challenges it by renegotiating established normative knowledge practices, structures of argumentation and visual rhetorics. We subsume this project into two working hypotheses:

  1. Art theories should modify their approach by also reflecting the complexity of their institutional and disciplinary framings and their performative dimensions. For this purpose they should explore the relations of production, the insecurities and the dispositive and discursive constitutions, in order to be able to assure the validity of basic propositions, theorems, ideologies, issues and institutions, and to consequently rediscuss the traditional notions and subdivisions in media, art forms, materials, genres and styles.  
  2. Art theories must mark their own epistemical processes. To this end, their politics and economies of knowledge formation, their processes of substantiation, legitimisation, exclusion and transmission are to be analyzed. It must also be acknowledged that history/ies of art are pluralistically produced and therefore themselves represent a heterogenous web of operations and operators.

This is going to be a scientifically, methodologically and epistemologically complex and challenging project, stimulating the intensification of a collective discussion across disciplinary boundaries. We wish to invite all colleagues who might be interested to contact us at: 

Please find some basic info online here:

A publication not only of the participants’ contributions to the conference will follow, with the aim of igniting a broader debate.

Prof. Dr. Elke Bippus, art theorist, art historian, Zurich University of the Arts

Dr. Silvia Jonas, philosopher, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

Prof. Dr. Birte Kleine-Benne, researcher of art, Institute of Art History, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

Prof. h.c. Dr. Stefan Römer, artist

Thorsten Schneider, art historian, Leuphana University Lüneburg and Institut für Betrachtung

Erwin GeheimRat, conceptual artist/digital,

June / November 2019