‘Art History Room’ is an ongoing research project initiated by London-based art historian, curator and thinker Sarat Maharaj. The project is related to his classroom back in the 1960s, when he studied art history on Salisbury Island, Durban, in South Africa, at a university restricted by the Apartheid regime to ‘Blacks of Indian origin’. The room developed at the time as a hybrid environment, privately exhibiting an ‘evolutionary ladder’ of artifacts, artworks and cultures undermining the insistence on a clear distinction applied by the Apartheid government. The project’s ambition is to revive the ‘Art History Room’ in new and very different contexts.
Previous iterations have taken place at the Art Academy/ Lund University in Malmö (2016), the Lumiar Cité exhibition space in Lisbon (2017), and the Stedelijk Museum and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (2018). With this research project, we aim to install a new version of the ‘Art History Room’ at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Crucial components of this project are in the first place the collaboration of artists, teachers, researchers and students in furnishing new works for this room. Next to that we will organise a symposium discussing the process of constructing (a version of) the ‘Art History Room’. Finally we plan a contribution to the symposium by Sarat Maharaj as well as leading a master class together with Nico Dockx on the preparation process of this project.