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 for Art History 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.

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).

Ulrike Gerhardt, M.A., works as an art and cultural scientist with a focus on institutional critique, artistic historiographies, feminism and gender. She received her PhD in 2021 from Leuphana University of Lüneburg with a thesis on video-artistic works of the «Generation Transformation» in the context of migration, globalization and post-Cold War cultures of memory. Currently she is a postdoc in the SNF research project «Images of History in Contemporary Art», from 2020–2022 at FHNW Basel, since 2022 localized at the University of Potsdam.

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 receveived grants from the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, the German Center for Art History in Paris, the Research Institute eikones in Basel and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Studentische Hilfskräfte

Sophie-Marie Gruber, M.A., studied German philology at the Karl Franzens University in Graz. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals, such as introspektiv magazine or Why nICHt? Seasonal Collection: words & images. Together with three other writers, she founded the literary network #BerlinAuthors. Since autumn 2021, she has been studying to teach art and German in secondary schools.

Luisa Renée Mann, studies History of Art and Cultural Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and University College London. She is currently working on her bachelor’s thesis on botanical models in the collections of Ethnological Museums.