Oxford University Press to Publish Book by Bilsel

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can Bilsel, Ph.D., signed contract with the Oxford University Press for a book titled Antiquity on Display: Regimes of the Authentic in Berlin's Pergamon Museum.  Bilsel's book will be forthcoming in 2011.

Once an academic exercise in search of classical orders and the agreeable taste of the ancients, the reconstruction of the lost monuments of antiquity became, after 1800, a complement to Europe’s colonial imagination. Archaeologists and architects mapped a European narrative of origins into a vast geography that extended from Greece to Bengal. The primary concern of this book is to interrogate the archaeological reconstructions of antiquity in situ or in a museum, and how the nascent historical monuments and sites have come to be seen as authentic. It does so by focusing on the history of Berlin’s Pergamon Museum and its chief architectural displays, Pergamon, Miletus and Babylon. Even though initially hypothetical, the reconstituted monuments gained autonomy from the historical field in which they had found their form and, through the assumption of aesthetic distance and modern spectatorship, have come to replace the lost antique originals instead of merely representing them. The book thus addresses the dilemmas raised as much by the continuing presence of monuments in the museum, as the current campaigns of “repatriation”: how to leave for posterity these monuments, which embody the distinctive traits of the artistic and ideological programs of the early twentieth century?

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