Project Description

Project Description


Visual Culture, Piety and Propaganda: Transfer and Reception of Russian Religious Art in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean (16th – early 20th century)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Yuliana Boycheva, Art Historian

Funded by the European Research Council – Consolidator Grant 2018
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
(Grant Agreement No. 818791)

Total budget: 1 914 670 euros

The Russian religious artefacts (icons and ecclesiastical furnishings), held in museums, church or monastery collections in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, constitute a body of valuable monuments hitherto largely neglected by historians and historians of art. These objects acquire various interrelated religious, ideological, political and aesthetic meanings, value, and uses. Their transfer and reception constitutes a significant component of the wider process of transformation of the artistic language and visual culture in the region and its transition from medieval to modern idioms. It is at the same time a process reflecting the changing cultural and political relations between Russia and the Orthodox communities in the Ottoman Empire and its successor states in the Balkans over a long period of time (16th- early 20th century). In this dynamic transfer, piety, propaganda and visual culture appear intertwined in historically unexplored and theoretically provoking ways.

Object & Objectives
RICONTRANS explores the thousands of Russian Icons and other religious art objects, brought from Russia to the Balkans from the 16th until the 20th century, preserved in monasteries, churches, and museum collections in the region.

Applying the cultural transfer approach in combination with the recent challenging openings of art history to visual studies and social anthropology, RICONTRANS aims to map the phenomenon in its long history by identifying preserved objects in the region; to follow the paths and identify the mediums of this transfer; to analyze the moving factors of this process; to inquire into the aesthetic, ideological, political and social factors which shaped the context of the reception of Russian religious art objects in various social and cultural environments; to investigate the influence of these transferred artefacts on the visual culture of the host societies.

Research & data management
The RICONTRANS team will organize and conduct archival, bibliographical and fieldwork research, collecting primary and secondary sources in Greece, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia.  In collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Informatics (CCI) of the Institute of Computer Science (ICS/FORTH), the collected RICONTRANS data will be managed and integrated in a CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model.

RICONTRANS applies an innovative research approach for the transnational study of art objects and their circulation in large regions of Europe, establishing inter-sectoral collaboration between museums, universities and research institutions and consolidating an international and interdisciplinary network of leading scholars with an emphasis in the European periphery as well as training a new generation of scholars in the field. Through exhibitions and various open activities, it will draw public attention to thus far neglected art objects, highlighting the political, social and cultural contexts of their transfer. 

Output & Deliverables
RICONTRANS will create and consolidate an international European network of scholars contributing to the study of Russian religious art objects in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean as a process of cultural transfer. Moreover, through its training activities, it will help for the training of a new generation of experts.

RICONTRANS will organise five scholar workshops, one student workshop and a concluding conference. It will publish over 42 scientific articles in peer international reviewed journals, 8 books, and produce two Ph.D. and one M.A. theses. These actions guarantee the successful dissemination of the considerable output of the project. Emphasis will be given to the project’s web publicity and open-access material through the Open Research Data Pilot (ORD Pilot). Through public lectures and the exhibitions organised by RICONTRANS, the scientific results and research outcome will reach a broader audience and will be shared fairly between all the countries involved in the project.

Read more here:
“The RICONTRANS Project. ERC Consolidator Grant 2018”, Museikon, 3, 2019: 189.