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International Conference


 Emmy Noether Research Project Jainism in Karnataka

Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, University of Bonn, Germany

In the Shadow of the Golden Age:
Art and Identity from Gandhara to the Modern Age

13.-15th October 2011


Golden Age_Bild

In the Shadow of the Golden Age: Art and Identity in Asia from Gandhara to the Modern Age

This international conference brings together specialists in the visual arts and humanities working on material from a wide range of periods and regions throughout Asia, the Islamic world and the Western diaspora. Instead of concentrating on the so-called ‘high points’ and ‘golden ages’ of art, which have so far stood generally at the centre of art-historical enquiries, this symposium focuses on visual expressions of confrontation with the ‘other,’ struggle or isolation during times of change. These challenging but artistically fertile periods were marked by intense efforts by communities in search for new identities. Through their art and frequently through the re-use of old symbols in new settings they succeeded in redefining themselves so as to strengthen their religious, cultural or political position. In the history of art, these less investigated phases raise issues, which hold the promise of new significant contributions to the subject.

What happened to Gandharan art after its main phase of flowering came to an end in its traditional heartland? How does Hindu temple architecture react to a majority Christian cultural environment in Goa? In which ways do new rulers and religions, e.g. in medieval South India and at Angkor, relate to the sacred places and icons of previous cultures and religious groups and how do the disposed and dispossessed deal with their loss and react to the new?

The confrontation with the ‘other’ has been particularly pronounced during periods of colonisation throughout Asia. How did British colonial officials and Indian artists commissioned by them represent the different facets of the empire, how was world art exhibited and interpreted in the West and how were (and are?) categories such as ‘masterpiece’ or ‘golden age’ employed to classify and judge art? 

A further particularly fertile area of enquiry is the modern age in which many traditions (religious, regal or social) appear to be threatened by globalisation and changes in value. The diverse examples of modern day artistic expressions taken from Arabia, India, Nepal and Thailand to be presented during this conference, however, suggest impressive acts of survival and creative adaptation, which enable continuity and the endurance of forms, meanings and practices under new disguises.


Organisation: Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald ([Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.])

Support: In case you require information about hotels in the vicinity of the conference venue, please contact Martha Schulz ([Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]).

There is no conference fee and no official prior registration is necessary, but we would be delighted to know if you are planning to attend.


The University of Bonn
Location: Main building of the University / Akademisches Kunstmuseum (Map)