Within the framework of the FED-tWIN program initiated by the Federal Science Policy (BELSPO) to stimulate scientific research and foster sustainable cooperation between federal scientific institutions and universities, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (RMFAB) and Center for Research in Art Theory (CERTA/INCAL/UCLouvain) have created the GENDER program (Through the lens of gender: stories and history within the museum's archival and art collections).
The GENDER program is designed to respond to one of the main current concerns and challenges of society, including the academic and museum world: the reflection on gender issues and representations of gender. By articulating the question of the narratives and the history of the museum from a gender perspective, the research will shed new light on the role that museums can play within a society and a policy that prioritizes gender equality.
Gender is defined here as the cultural construction of femininity and masculinity, as a spectrum not to be constrained to the femininity/masculinity binarity. But it can also be seen as a framework or category of analysis, a gaze or "lens" on the entire social world, to use a metaphor now common in this field of research. Gender is an effective "tool" for re-evaluating art history and all the histories and stories produced in and by the museum, understood at once as a place, a practice, and an institution.
The project is interested in the ways of telling, the particular forms and attitudes through which something is presented. To pursue this objective, the project relies on literary analysis to study narratives (including history) and the elements that shape them and give them substance: sources, ways of telling (narrative), without forgetting the question of point of view, and the final product, the story. Such a rereading necessarily implies (re)discovering both the sources in the archives and the works in the collections.
The scientific objectives can be summarized under three main headings.
- The place of the women artists within art institutions and discourses, the revaluation of their works as a point of departure for a global reflection on the "value of art" and thus the reflection on the definition of art, starting from a corpus hitherto neglected;
- Taking into account the category of gender for the analysis of representations in order to show that gender is a social and historical construction, but also to question the relations between works and gender, and between aesthetics and gender issues;
- Investigation of non-heterocentric narratives, that is, stories and representations of sexualities that do not fall within the normative heterosexual sexuality. In this sense, queer, which refers to a non-binary approach to gender and sexuality, is another tool for rediscovering collections and archives.
Conducted jointly by the Museum and UCLouvain, the project will use the resources and skills of both institutions to contribute to their respective missions in order to initiate a change of perspective throughout the museum, which can itself become a platform for social change through renewed representations, unbiased narratives and forms of inclusion. Student training is also an essential element of the project's scope.
For this project, RMFAB and CERTA are currently seeking a researcher with a PhD degree in French literature or art history, specialized in gender studies.
The selected candidate will be responsible for conducting research under each of the three project objectives. In particular, he/she will focus on:
- Participate in cutting-edge international research on gender and museums, particularly in relation to history and narrativity.
- Promote the exchange of expertise and collaboration between the RMFAB and CERTA.
- Develop a network of researchers and organize scientific events.
- Publish scientific collective volumes as well as papers in scientific journals specialized in the fields of museum studies, art history, literature and/or gender studies.
- Support pedagogical interactions between the RMFAB and CERTA.
- Disseminate research for the general public by organizing events such as conferences, exhibitions, etc.).