PhD Projects

Julie Göllner


Julie Göllner holds an MSc in Art History, Curating & Criticism from the University of Edinburgh, and a BA in Culture & Communication Management from Zeppelin University. After graduating in 2017, she managed the Gerhard Richter website in London, working at the intersection of art and digital communication, before advising art galleries at Artsy UK. Prior to beginning her PhD, she organized cultural events for the federal state of Berlin and subsequently worked in sales and client relations at KÖNIG Galerie. Her research interests include social dynamics and power structures in the art field, the moral and ethical questions of contemporary art practice, politics of display, and the role public art institutions and museums play in society.

Dissertation Project

This dissertation project undertakes an analysis of current dynamics in the art world that seem to disrupt the traditional power structure along with its prevalent modus operandi. It examines the institutional and structural changes that result from the growing focus on ethical and moral principles in art, which was spurred by various social movements campaigning against systematic oppression. Despite being driven by different leitmotifs, these movements share an increased sensitivity to social power structures that reflects a broader shift in societal consciousness. Against this backdrop, political topics and socio-critical issues have gained momentum in art production, exhibition-making as well as setting the tone in contemporary art discourse. This paradigm shift on the level of discourse is no longer only part of a social or ethical turn, but points to a moralization process, which is discussed under the terms "cancel culture", “culture wars” or “wokeness”. This thesis examines to what extent the moralization of the contemporary art discourse influences these structural and institutional changes in the operating system of art. It sheds light on the role that art’s social figures and public institutions play in this dynamic and to what extent key actors must renegotiate and redefine their roles in this field. The aim is to identify the current power dynamics in the art industry and to further explore the moralization of the art discourse. By doing so, it aims to raise general awareness about the potential impact of this phenomenon on the art industry and the possible changes that may result.

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