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Name: Alex Jovčić-Sas

PhD: Art History, Gender studies, Arts Management and Cultural Institutional Practices

Thesis Title: Bauhaus and Beyond: New Geographies of Cultural Exchange and Artistic Practices


Thesis Description:

Walter Gropius’ vison for the Bauhaus was to create ‘artistic utopia’ across all art forms (Loureiro: 2014), where artists were free to create works without any constraints (Abadžić-Hodžić: 2016), be it commercial value, reliance on previous artists or movements. Modernism has had a profound impact on the way that art was produced; it broke down many constructs on what arts intrinsic value ‘should’ be (Forgács: 2016, Rush et al: 2014, Delle Monache and Rocchesso: 2014, and Konstantinos: 2016). For music, Gurtrud Gernow is amongst one of the most well-known alumni from the school producing ground-breaking research into Music Colour theory, and moved the boundaries on how music was studied and produced (Rodreguez: 2017, Tam: 2013). It showed the movement from emulation of the previous composers, to creation of new sound which developed its own intrinsic value and, most importantly, its own message and meaning.


Music thus has the power to create countercultures to challenge popular culture (Morant: 2011), to aid in movements to tackle issues such as gender and race equality (Fila-Bakabadio: 2014 and Vande Zande: 2011, Martinelli: 2017, Peddie: 2012 and Illiano: 2015). But what is the role of music venues, labels and other industry bodies to how they promote artists’ ideas in their contemporary music practice, and does it fit into the ideals of the Bauhaus as an ‘artistic utopia’.


By focusing on the roles of arts venues as facilitators for new ideals, the thesis will examine the way in which venues had the ability to make and break counterculture movements based in artistic utopia in the music industry (Martinelli: 2017, Peddie: 2012, Illiano 2015 and Røstvik and Sutherland: 2015). Did their practices help create these movements, or do they present a barrier between artist and audience through external factors, namely economic or prejudice? I will use the examples of new musical projects like ‘Both Sides Now’ in the North of England (Brighter Sound: 2017), and all female residency project teaching women how to navigate the industry in all facets from performers to technicians. As well as negative case studies, such as the incarceration of Pussy Riot in Russia, why their art caused such a threat and subsequent response (Sperling: 2014 and Dodd: 2012). How are artists responding to venues limits, and how well are venues facilitating counterculture ideas?


I wish to present contemporary issues of gender inequality in regards to the Bauhaus’ ideology of ‘artistic utopia’. Do specific gender groups suffer being able to produce true intrinsic work due to their gender (Levin: 2010), and how responsive are arts institutions in diversifying their programmes to be as inclusive as they can be? These are all ideas which I will be developing during the PhD, as well as in my final semester of my masters, and in my dissertation.


Through the practical part of the PhD, I wish to present this idea through contemporary female artists who are responding and working in a modernist style. Is there work truly intrinsic and free from outside factors (Bergsdóttir: 2016, Pollock: 2015 and Dimitrakaki and Perry 2013) or have they had to change and sensor their work to fit an industry that does not truly represent them as artists. I want to present work from artists who hold true to the idea of ‘Artistic Utopia’ despite criticism due to gender prejudice.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Cüneyt Calirlar, School of Arts and Humanities, NTU

Danica Maier, School of Arts and Design, NTU

Carolina Rito, Nottingham Contemporary



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