The theme of the North Street Review is set in the first few meetings of the editorial board, usually sometime in autumn. This year we chose ‘Artifice’ as a means to promote a discussion of the dichotomy of nature versus humanity. Is art really the opposite of nature, or is there a way to bridge these two disparate domains? How do artists, curators, or collectors navigate the divide? How did viewers and creators of art approach this issue in the past, and is it a even relevant question today?
Little did we know in late September that the art of artifice would take centre stage in the global news in the following weeks. Looking back, the premonitory choice was one that serves to link the art historical and political worlds in ways we couldn’t begin to comprehend only months before. In these tumultuous times it is essential that we become more attuned to the art of artifice. And in this, the twenty-second edition of the North Street Review, our authors offer four separate answers to the questions we proposed in the prompt, on how artifice is used in the art world.
The four articles in this edition offer chronologically and theoretically distinct interpretations of artifice, reflecting the theme’s broad and relevant appeal to scholars. In ‘No Strings Attached: Emotional Interaction with Animated Sculptures of Crucified Christ’, Jonah Coman takes the curiously life-like Christ statues of the Middle Ages and uses them as a starting point to examine materiality and questions of truth. Jonah is in the second year of a Medieval Studies PhD at the University of St Andrews, working on medieval images of the crucifixion. Outside his PhD, he is an avid conference, events and network organizer (Medieval Materialities, ScotMEMs, Beyond Powerpoint), and a prolific Twitteratus (@MxComan).
Kathryn Bowne offers a unique contribution with her juxtaposition of two houses of worship in ‘Finding Truth in Spiritual Space: A Comparison of Andrea Pozzo’s Counter-Reformation Church and James Turrell’s Quaker Meeting House.’ Kathryn is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Art and Museum Studies MA program. With research experience at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Modern & Contemporary Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Gagosian Gallery, hopes to pursue a PhD in the coming year.
‘Des Esseintes’ of Brussels: Artifice of the Villa Khnopff’ invites us into the unusually constructed and contrived home of a fin-de-siècle artist. While the building no longer exists, through photography and descriptions, author Maria Golovteeva recreates and assesses the impact of a home built as art. Maria is currently a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews. Her research examines the early avant-garde discourse on art and photography in the late-nineteenth-century interactions between various forms of art, focusing on the works of Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff.
Finally, in ‘From Collective of Action toward Collective Behavior: The Human Condition 1958 and The Human Habitat 1959’ Andjelka Badnjar Gojnić applies the major philosophical treatise The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt, to images of human habitation in the late 1950s. When not writing for the North Street Review, Andjelka is PhD candidate at RWTH Aachen University in the field of Architectural Theory.
I realise that in my last editorial I promised to pass the torch to the next generation of scholars. Though this year I took up the mantle yet again, I was joined by a new editor, Nicola John. In the first year of her PhD, she jumped into the deep end of the editing pool and has been a wonderful addition to the team. When she isn’t fielding author queries or furiously passing on edits, she studies modernism in South East Asia, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Valentina S. Grub