Prof. Dr. Birgit Mersmann
Professor for Modern and Contemporary Art
Birgit Mersmann is an art historian and image theoretician with a pronounced transcultural research and teaching profile. Since October 2018 she holds the professorship for modern and contemporary art at the University of Duisburg-Essen. From 2015-2016 she was Visiting Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art/Aesthetic Theory at the University of Cologne, and from 2008 to 2015 Assistant Professor for Non-Western and European Art at the international Jacobs University in Bremen. She was a founding member of the Humanities Research Center «Humanities, Modernity, Globalization» at Jacobs University which she headed from 2011-2012. From 1998 to 2002 she taught as DAAD Visiting Professor at the Seoul National University in South Korea where she started researching contemporary East Asian art.
Mersmann studied art history and literature in Munich and Vienna. She received her PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, graduating with a dissertation on media-critical aspects of postmodern iconoclasms (Bilderstreit und Büchersturm. Medienkritische Überlegungen zu Übermalung und Überschreibung im 20. Jahrhundert, 1999). As senior researcher of the National Competence Centre of Research “Iconic Criticism. The Power and Meaning of Images” at the University of Basel, Switzerland (2005-2008), she investigated “iconoscriptures” as hybrid symbolic forms and inter-media expressions between image and writing (Schriftikonik. Bildphänomene der Schrift in kultur- und medienkomparativer Perspektive, 2015).
Together with Burcu Dogramaci, she is the co-founder of the research group “Art Production and Art Theory in Times of Global Migration” established in 2013 (https://www.ag-kunst-migration.de/). She is the co-editor of the first international «Handbook of Art and Global Migration. Theories, Practices and Challenges» (Berlin/Boston: DeGruyter, 2019).
Birgit Mersmann received numerous fellowships in Germany and abroad: at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies of the University of Cologne, the International Research Center for Cultural Studies in Vienna, the Neubauer Collegium of Culture and Society der University of Chicago, and the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University (ANU), where she investigated new urban museumscapes in global Asian cities.
Research foci include modern and contemporary Western and East Asian art, image and media theory, translation studies, transculturality, visual cultures, art and migration, global art history, the history of Asian biennials, interrelations between script and image, and documentary photography.