Elena Nustrini

MA, is a PhD student in Art History at the University of the Arts, Berlin. Her academic research fields are landscape and botanical art (17th-19th century), history of collections and exhibitions, art and colonial knowledge and practices.

In her doctoral dissertation, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Miriam Oesterreich and as part of the DFG-funded project “A Critical Art History of International and World Expositions: Decentering Fashion and Modernities,” she investigates the transregional artistic exchange in the visual arts that took place at national and international exhibitions both in Europe and Latin America in the second half of the 19th century. In particular, her research focuses on the genre of Realism in paintings and prints and specifically on the role of landscape representations in the construction of political and artistic identities.

Nustrini graduated in 2022 with a master's thesis on botanical drawings and still life paintings by the Dutch artist Albert Eckhout (1608/12–1664/66). In her Master's thesis, she examined the role of art in the process of appropriation of the colony of Dutch Brazil (1637-1644) focusing on the assimilation of colonial botanical drawings into the art of Dutch still life paintings, as well as on how botanical epistemological observations on the so-called “New World” were used by the colonizers to legitimize European superiority by means of a ‘naturalization’ of economic exploitation processes.

Nustrini studied art history, literature, philology, and linguistics at the Free University of Berlin, the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), and Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). During her studies, she worked at the Italienzentrum and the Institute of Art History at Freie Universität Berlin, in several auction houses, as a translator and was awarded a scholarship from the Deutschlandstipendium and the German National Academic Foundation. 

Exhibiting the ‘national’ landscape: trans/regional Realism in Argentina and Italy in the second half of the 19th century (working title) 

The dissertation project deals with the question of how, in the second half of the 19th century, international exhibitions and world’s fairs both in Europe and Latin America favored a transregional artistic exchange in the visual arts and how this exchange contributed to the further development of regional iconographies and styles. In particular, the project investigates the genre of Realism in paintings and prints in Argentina and Italy in a comparative approach with a focus on landscape representations.

The cultural and political gaze on the landscape in both Argentinian and Italian art histories in the late 19th century was strongly shaped by the consolidation of ‘national’ states, but also by the advent of industrial modernity, practices of border colonialization, extractivism and migration movements. The re-semanticization of landscape iconographies (and styles) in Argentina and Italy was therefore subjected to rapid changes. At the same time, ‘national landscapes’ (in the media of paintings, prints and photography) were displayed and negotiated at international and world exhibitions, where new artistic 'border areas' or 'contact zones' (Pratt) were created through curatorial practices.

The art-historical project aims to trace the development of both new iconographic ‘languages’ and Realism as a transculturally negotiated style in an always already entangled 19th century. The decentralization of the European concept of realism in favor of a ‘trans/regional realism’, which emerged along with the country’s self-representation and self-assertation on the stage of (inter)national exhibitions, will form the core of the project’s research.