Project Lead

Prof. Dr. Melanie Franke studied art history and Romance studies at the Humboldt University, and visual arts at the Berlin University of the Arts, with semesters abroad at the Royal College of Art, London, Sorbonne Université, Paris and at the Haute école d’art et de design, Geneva. Her doctoral thesis, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), was supervised by Philipp Ursprung at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (disputation 2005). After working as a research fellow at the National Gallery in Berlin (2005–07), she headed up the “Research on the Art Business” department at the Swiss Institute for Art Research in Zürich. From 2009-2021, she was responsible for, researched and taught the “Art & Research” discipline as Professor of Art and Research at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel; since 2021, she has been Prof. Dr. phil at the University of Potsdam, as well as curator for the “Rundgang 50Hertz” project at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art – Berlin. She has raised funds from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SBFI) for the development of research expertise at the School of Art and Design in Basel amounting to CHF 300,000 and for a research project entitled “Images of History in Contemporary Art” ( from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) amounting to CHF 600,000.
She has held visiting professorships at the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Erfurt and at the University of São Paulo. She works as a reviewer for the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst e.V., the Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Lisbon, the Université franco-allemande, Saarbrücken and the Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva.

Research Assistants

Christoph Balzar, Ph.D., is an art scholar with research interests in museum theory, colonialism and the politics of memory. He teaches in the departments of «Aesthetic Education» and «Art Science» at the University of Potsdam and curates exhibitions at the intersection of art and activism in Germany and abroad.

MAX BÖHNER, M.A., studied Art and Visual History and German Literature in Berlin. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Art and Visual History at the Humboldt University of Berlin with a dissertation project on the queer visual culture in the United States between 1945 and 1969. In 2020, he was a visiting lecturer at the Humboldt-University and a research assistant for Megan Luke. Since 2020, he has been a research associate in Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. His research has been supported by the Humboldt-Universitäts-Gesellschaft, the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Bibliotheca Hertziana. Research areas are art and visual culture in Europe and the US from the 19th century to the present, with emphases on queer studies and theory, gender studies, aesthetics, intermediality, and film history.

Alex Bykov, M.A., graduated from Kyiv University of Construction and Architecture. In his architectural research he explores the legacy of Ukrainian urban planning of the second half of the 20th century. From September 2022 to February 2023 is a guest researcher and scholarship holder of the Bridging Scholarship Ukraine of University of Potsdam. His research project is called «Wild Wonderland: Architecture in Ukraine through Photographic and Archival Sources during the 1990ies» and focuses on the mostly unexplored period in the history of Ukrainian architecture from 1991 till 2008. Bykov is co-editor of the book «Soviet Modernism, Brutalism, Postmodernism. Buildings and Structures in Ukraine 1955–1991» (Osnovy Publishing and DOM Publishers, 2019) and the book «Orthodox Chic» (Osnovy Publishing, 2020).

Marie Egger, M.A. studied art history, cultural management and cultural studies in Berlin. She is currently preparing a PhD on Mail Art Aktionen in the GDR at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include the relationship between art and politics, strategies of humor in art and visual history since the Cold War, as well as institutional and artistic practices of archiving. From 2020 to 2023 she was a Student Assistant at the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity and at the research center Das Technische Bild at the Institute for Art and Visual History at Humboldt University in Berlin. She received grants from Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (now Kunstinstituut Melly) in Rotterdam, Gerda Henkel Foundation, Erhard Höpfner Foundation, Humboldt University in Berlin and from the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Ulrike Gerhardt, M.A., is an art and cultural scientist who researches the transformation period, inter- and transgenerational memory processes, and troubled matter in art after 1989/1991. In her 2021 completed dissertation, she analyzed video artistic reflections of the transformation period as »Easternfuturist memory« practices (forthcoming). From 2020-2023, she worked as a research associate and post-doc in the context of the SNSF-funded research project Images of History in Contemporary Art.

Verena Kittel, M.A., studied art history and applied cultural studies in Karlsruhe and Berlin. Besides participating in curatorial projects in New York and Basel, she worked as research associate to exhibition projects between the Freie Universität Berlin (FU) and the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin as well as the Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover. She is currently writing her dissertation on artistic research strategies and their primitivist implications in modern art educational contexts at the Institute of Theater Studies at the FU.

Oliver Krätschmer, M.A., studied art history and media theory at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. After a visiting research fellowship at the Center for Curatorial Studies in New York, he was involved in exhibitions such as Déjà-vu? The Art of Repetition from Dürer to YouTube or 31.2 Running Meters: On the History of the Badischer Kunstverein. He is currently working on his PhD on Gustave Courbet’s strategies of backdating at the University of Fribourg (CH).

Paul Mellenthin, Ph.D., studied art history in Leipzig, Berlin and Basel. He works internationally as an art and photo historian and has received grants from the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, the German Forum for Art History in Paris, the eikones research centre in Basel, and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Helene Romakin, M.A., studied cultural studies, art history, and cultural management, in Berlin and Friedrichshafen. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. on the topic “Narrating the Anthropocene in Art, Architecture, and Film in Works by Lara Almarcegui, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Peter Zumthor,” under the supervision of Philip Urpsrung and Karen van den Berg at ETH Zurich. She also works as an editor, author, and freelance curator.

Studentische Hilfskräfte

Anna Leonie Grimm, B.A., studied Art and Visual History and Philosophy at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she is currently completing her master’s degree in Art and Visual History. She wrote her bachelor’s thesis on contemporary pregnancy portraits and their iconographic references. Besides her studies, she worked as a student assistant for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee in Berlin.