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University of Ulster Professorship for Leading Art Theorist and Historian

13 December 2012

Dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes has been appointed a Professor of Iconology at the University of Ulster.

Following her studies of Art History, English Literature and History at Heidelberg, London (UCL, Courtauld), Bonn and Cologne, Professor Lerm Hayes completed her PhD, which was researched as James Joyce Foundation Scholar in Zurich, at the University of Cologne, where she briefly returned as Visiting Professor last semester.

She lived in Dublin and taught there (UCD, NCAD, OU), before taking up a post at the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design in 2003. She holds an Ulster qualification in Management Practices in the Arts.

Between 2007 and 2011, she led the internationally successful Research Graduate School of the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment.

Iconology, a term coined by German art historian and cultural theorist Aby Warburg, can be translated as “image studies”, while logos also means “word”. Thus, her research focuses on word and image relations (she organised an IAWIS conference “Displaying Word and Image” at Ulster in 2010). She is interested particularly in the visual legacies of (Irish) writers (Joyce, Beckett, Sebald), while also considering the historiography of art (Warburg, Giedion-Welcker) and matters of curation.

Rooted in Beuys studies, she has an interest in sculpture, performance and engaged, multi-disciplinary practices, as well as art in divided countries (she was born in East Germany) and post-War histories.

Her many publications include the books Post-War Germany and ‘Objective Chance’: W.G. Sebald, Joseph Beuys and Tacita Dean (2008, 2011), James Joyce als Inspirationsquelle für Joseph Beuys (2001), and Joyce in Art (2004).

This book accompanied her exhibition on the theme, curated for the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. She has also curated for the Goethe Institut, Dublin; Tolstoy Estate, Russia; MoA, Seoul National University, Korea; Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; and LCGA, Limerick.

She plays an important role in the Belfast art world as committee member of Bbeyond and Catalyst Arts, as well as Board member of The MAC.

Professor Lerm Hayes said: “I feel both honoured and excited by this appointment, which is excellent news for art and the awareness that images, while pervasive, are complex and in need of interpretation. Northern Irish art is excellent and its history and theorisation are part of the eco system that can make art last, be recognised and remain ambitious, as well as encourage audiences to participate in meaning-making. I would like to thank all those who have supported my work to date.”