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Laboratory for Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art.


Visual Culture and Contemporary Art is a interdisciplinary field that emerged on the crossroads of philosophy, semiotics, cultural studies, gender and postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, film theory, sociology, and art critique. This interdisciplinary paradigm presupposes a complex exploration of contemporary visual culture employing methodologies of visual text analysis as applied to different types of visual ‘texts’.



The Laboratory for Visual and Cultural Studies was founded in 1999 at the European Humanities University (Minsk, Belarus) by Almira Ousmanova and Andrei Gornykh. The Laboratory hosts research seminars, scientific conferences, different educational, multimedia and art-projects. In 2013 the Laboratory merged with the Center for Studies of Contemporary Art (CSCA, managing directors Lena Prents and Aliona Glukhova), and was renamed Laboratory for Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art.


Laboratory’s main activities:
  • Organization of research seminars, scientific conferences, summer schools;

  • curatorial activities in the field of contemporary art, with a special emphasis on research exhibitions;

  • publication of scientific and research monographs (including translations);

  • designing of academic courses on visual culture and development of educational projects in this sphere;

  • creation of educational audiovisual multimedia products (as a part of a general strategy for medialization of social and humanitarian sciences;

  • providing insight and media expertise in the field (film critique, etc.).


Thematic focus:
  • Analysis of forms and meanings of different visual practices that determine the specificity of contemporary culture (cinematograph, television, advertising, art, public art, urban space, new media);

  • exploration of theoretical approaches to study of visual culture and using their critical potential in analyzing actual cultural practices;

  • the problems of vision and visuality in the European philosophy and social sciences (epistemological, anthropological, and ideological aspects);

  • analysis of the specificity of Soviet and post-Soviet forms and practices of visual culture, and their connections with ideological discourses and institutional practices;

  • the problems of teaching disciplines related to the theory and methodology of visual image analysis (as applied to different social problems and disciplinary methodologies) – and as a whole – using visual images for didactic purposes).

Current research priorities of the Laboratory:

Knowledge medialization and digitalization of humanities (digital humanities); anthropological and cognitive aspects of informational technologies; ‘professional’ vision and visual literacy in everyday practices and scientific discourses; artistic research vs academic research; contemporary Belarusian art in the context of the East-European studies.


The main accomplishments of Laboratory:
  • Establishment of BA and MA programs on visual studies at EHU (since 2005);

  • implementation of a scientific-educational project HESP Re-SET (2004-2015) devoted to the development of visual studies and forms of its institutionalization in the post-Soviet context (supported by HESP OSI);

  • the exhibition and educational project Artes Liberales (Minsk, Y Gallery, since 2012; supported by EHU, ERSTE Foundation, Marshall Fund, Goethe Institute, Lithuanian Embassy in Belarus, and others);

  • establishment of a book series on visual and cultural studies (since 2003);

  • realization of a series of large collective art-projects including Going Public (with art-institutions, curators and artists from Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Germany, supported by Goethe Institute in Lithuania), Roland Barthes: Key Words (supported by the Embassy of France in Belarus), and others;

  • implementation of a project “Soviet/Lithuanian film: reconstruction” (supported by LitPRO, coordinated by Alexandra Ihnatovich). a festival of a non-budget cinema “ToKino” (supported by LitPRO, organized by Alexandra Ihnatovich, Natalia Nenarokomova, Almira Ousmanova, and others (2011-2012) a project “The future city in architecture, cinema and art” (supported by DAAD, including lectures and workshops in Berlin and Brandenburg region; participants: A.Ousmanova, F.Akkerman, L.Prents, A.Gornykh, S.Liubimov, W.Beilenhoff, B.Pejic, and others).


HESP Projects:

Through 2004-2015 the activities of the Laboratory were primarily connected with the realization of an international scientific-educational project conducted as a part of a regional seminar Re-SET Higher Education Support Program devoted to the exploration of visual culture in the post-Soviet space and methods of teaching disciplines related to visual culture in the European and American universities.

2004-2006 Rethinking Visual and Cultural Studies: new subjects, methods, and teaching strategies.


14 seminars were held as a part of these projects with participation of such renowned theorists as Lev Manovich, Michael Ann Holly, Keith Moxey, Stephen Melvill, Elena Yarskaya-Smirnova, Pavel Romanov, Mark Poster, Janet Wolf, James Elkins, Scott Lash, Laura Mulvey, Thomas Elsaesser, Wolfgang Beilenhoff, Marquard Smith, Joanne Morra, Igor Chubatov, Gintautas Mazeikis, and others.


Affiliation with international associations and research webs:

Membership in the International Association for Visual Culture Studies, which was established in 2010. Since 2010 membership in the European network of academic programs in visual culture (Visual Culture Studies in Europe).


Book series on visual and cultural studies (launched in 2003):
  • Флешер, А. Лаборатории времени. Эссе о кино и фото- графии / А. Флешер. – Минск : «Пропилеи», 2014. – 380 с.

  • Горных, А. Медиа и общество. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2012. 346 с.

  • Элкинс, Дж. Исследуя визуальный мир / пер. с англ. – Вильнюс : ЕГУ, 2010. – 534 с.

  • P.S. Ландшафты: оптики городских исследований. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. Н. Милерюс, Б. Коуп. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2008. 474 с.

  • Белорусский формат: невидимая реальность. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2008. 552 с.

  • Гендер и трансгрессия в визуальных искусствах. Сборник научных статей / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ; М.: ООО «Вариант», 2007. 218 с.

  • Визуальное (как) насилие. Сборник научных трудов / отв. ред. А.Р. Усманова. Вильнюс: ЕГУ, 2007. 380 с.

  • Би-текстуальность и кинематограф / под ред. А. Усмановой. Минск: Пропилеи, 2003. 188 с.

Multimedia publications, short films and documentaries:
  • 2004–2005: documentary «EHU: Optimistic tragedy» (A.Gornykh);

  • 2005–2006: A series of short films for LAD TV channel: “Minsk, the Invisible City”; and “The Culture of Consumption”;

  • 2006: multimedia volume “Differentiation Lines in Arts History“ (created by A.Pihalskaya, A.Gornykh, E.Tolstik, and others);

  • 2008: multimedia volume “Representation of World War II in the Soviet cinematography between 1940s–60s” (by A. Gornykh)

  • 2010: “Television as a means of knowledge production” (by A. Gornykh)

  • 2012: Participation in production of 24 episodes of the In-Between TV program (EHU program created for BelSAT TV channel)

  • 2012: Multimedia volume “Visual Studies in the Digital Age”.

Project Summary
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