Establishing a Europe-wide network for research on avant-gardes may sound utopian. However, if we are prepared to take the frequently voiced wish seriously to affirm the diversity of European identity, it follows that the intellectual and artistic ideas that made new cultural departures possible in Europe after the catastrophe of National Socialism need to be investigated. This requires careful and contextualised research efforts.
In times of dwindling budgets for the humanities in general and cultural studies in particular we simply cannot afford squandering scarce resources on a disparate avant-garde research landscape which is lacking in internal coordination.
While it is true that there is no shortage of calls for EU projects in this field, productive contacts and partnerships between the great number of university and extramural research institutions that are required for the comprehensive and effective conception of such projects are in short supply. This is why viennAvant has decided to include the step-by-step establishment of such a network in its agenda.
The first substantive partnership to result from this is with Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, which houses the world’s largest archive of scores and scholarly publications on 20th century music, the documentation of the concerts and lectures of the Darmstädter Ferienkurse since their inception in 1946, an extensive pictorial archive and a collection of relevant letters.
At present we are engaged in establishing contacts with several museums with relevant collections, such as the ones in Lodz/Poland and Zagreb/Croatia, and with a group of British researchers.
Several of viennAvant’s researchers are also members of the European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism Studies (EAM). In May 2008 members of viennAvant participated in EAM’s first conference, “Europa! Europa?”, which took place in Ghent and featured a panel consisting of exponents of three different disciplines.