At the Moment, May We See Each Other, and the World See Us
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the São Paulo section of the 35th World Congress of Art History is put off until August, 2021. Being appointed to continue serving as the president of CIHA, I will do my best to maintain CIHA’s core functionalities during the pandemic. On behalf of CIHA, I pray that all of us, regardless of nationality, skin color, language, region, gender, age and specialty, unite to face the challenge, take care and stay safe when enduring through the hard time. May we are all safe and sound when meeting next year at São Paulo.
Art History illuminates the time and the world we live in, as well as Humanity as the emblem of hope and light. During the pandemic, it is hard to stay aloof when discussing about Art. As the onslaught of the virus forces us to live in self-isolation, we care for each colleague of ours, and wish to be able to see each other and let the world see us. Hence we shall push forward along the directions already laid out by CIHA in 2016, deploying the asset of new media to promote Art History. The directions pinpoint four tasks that reflect our expectation for CIHA at the start. But the ongoing crisis has made such expectation into a kind of necessity.
Firstly, we shall use CIHA’s official website (www.ciha.org) to boost exchanges among art historians stranded at home, and provide a forum to publicize their researches. The website is being managed by three members of the CIHA Presidency. In addition, the organization committees of the 35th World Congress of Art History in Italy and Brazil have been updating news on this World Congress, and two young Chinese colleagues have been partaking in managing the website. Besides providing updating services for CIHA’s member states, academic institutions in all locations, the World Congress of Art History and CIHA’s various colloquiums, they have also been busy with setting up links to connect CIHA’s member states on the website (the “Bridge Project”).
Secondly, we shall regularly upload short videos on Art History, all no more than ten minutes long, to broadcast our latest research outputs. The program is named “Best for Everyone”. Through this channel, we can know about each other’s achievements, both past and present, and publicize them to the general public. Through these videos, brief but extraordinary, the audience can get a glimpse of glories of human civilization and the wonders of the world.
Thirdly, we shall make the CIHA website a venue for publishing CIHA’s academic journal. Thanks to the effort by the Secretaries-General in two terms, the journal has come to the stage of calling for submission, and an announcement is to be issued soon. We had tried to publish the journal as E-journal, but many colleagues thought it safer to adopt a two-step process. Hence, at last year’s CIHA board meeting at Florence, we have decided to start with publishing papers by junior scholars presenting at the 35th World Congress of Art History. As for now, we are engaged with publicizing discussions on our ever-growing research on Art History in the E-journal format.
Fourthly, we shall use blockchain technology and others to build an image database shared by us all. Many museums have pioneered in building such image databases. For twenty-five years in Peking University, I have been in charge of editing Hanhua zonglu 汉画总录 (the Catalogue Raisonné of Pictures in Han Dynasty 206 B.C-220 A.D.) for 25 years at Peking University, and which has been published 41 volumes. We can put all the data of this catalogue on the Internet (art.han-art.net). Using the Chinese-English glossaries and machine translation software, all people can translate the information, annotations and bibliography into their native language. You may compare it with resources on such as ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek-Roman and Islamic art, thereby raise meaningful questions. Moreover, blockchain technology may also enable us to interconnect our research databases so that we can fully understand each other. CIHA can then lay a new foundation for study of the world, providing information and primary sources. In the image age today, CIHA can also chart new territories for Visual Studies, aided by written documents and archaeological finds.
The pandemic is deeply affecting us. We must try to overcome the crisis and look forward to the future.
May you all stay healthy.
LaoZhu (Zhu Qingsheng)
President of CIHA
April 26, 2020