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Intermedial study of Belgian art as a network structured as seen through the lens of the mass media magazines in the interbellum years

ARTPRESSE is a four-year project funded by BRAIN-be 2.0.

The Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) hosts extremely rich holdings in the field of popular and mass magazines and print culture in general, which offer a view of Belgian art that has never been taken into account in the canonical construction of Belgian art history. ARTPRESSE aims at studying and digitizing a representative part of this neglected corpus, both in order to challenge our canonical view of Belgian art history and to create a best practice helping KBR to reorient its own archive and heritage policy into these new directions which are at the heart of the broader current intermedial turn of the digital age. Key in this regard is the collaboration between KBR and universities, which leads to the enlargement of both the notions of library and archive while producing new possibilities for new types of research and digitization.


This 4 years project

• Deals with the networked structure of Belgian art in the interbellum period, as seen (and dramatically reshaped) through the lens of mass media magazines, both Dutch-speaking and francophone.

• It is a study in heritage culture, with an important digital dimension.

• The archival corpus that will be studied as well as digitized, is part of the collections of the National Library. No other material will be used.


The project has five main objectives.

• The first objective is to fundamentally redefine the three key notions of “art”, “Belgium” and “network”, not just by addressing the interconnectedness of these concepts, but by producing a new take on each of them, based on the general framework of intermedial analysis as well as on their relationships through the lens of a new corpus, namely mass media magazines and the way in which they shape in word and image a vision of Belgian art as a multipolar and multilayered whole.

• The second objective is to make the essential elements of this material digitally available via the archival resources of the National Library and to guarantee the further implementation of these materials in larger European archives.

• The third objective is to elaborate a set of guidelines for the optimal valorization of this kind of digital heritage work, in collaboration with the larger dissemination and valorization policy of the National Library in the next decade.

• The fourth objective is the development of an overall theoretical, methodological and technical framework based on the notion of intermediality for the cultural and historical study, digitization, dissemination and valorization of similar fields and corpuses, here as well according to the strategic changes and priorities of the National Library as a modern online/offline archive institution of the 21st Century.

• The fifth objective is to reposition the KBR as a scientific institution, whose role is not only to archive and describe culturally valuable items and collections, but to take the lead in new forms of interdisciplinary and intermedial analysis and valorization of materials that only the KBR holds in Belgium.

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