This article describes some of the techniques museums use to represent the suffering body in exhibitions. Some display human remains, but much more common, especially in Western museums, are stand-ins for the body. Manikins take many forms, including the wax museum’s hyperrealistic representations, the history museum’s neutral grey figures and the expressionistic figures that represent enslaved people in many recent exhibits. Symbolic objects or artefacts from the lives of victims can serve as counterweights to telling the story of their deaths. Photographs can show horror and the machinery of death, focus attention on individual lives or recreate communities. The absence of the body can call attention to its suffering. All of these techniques can be useful for museums trying to display and teach traumatic histories, but must be used with care and caution.
Migration, understood as the movement of people and cultures, gives impetus to globalisation and the transculturation processes that the interaction between people and cultures entails. This book addresses migration as a profoundly transforming force that has remodelled artistic and art institutional practices across the world. It explores contemporary art's critical engagement with migration and globalisation as a key source for improving our understanding of how these processes transform identities, cultures, institutions and geopolitics. The book also explores three interwoven issues of enduring interest: identity and belonging, institutional visibility and recognition of migrant artists, and the interrelations between aesthetics and politics, and its representations of forced migration. Transculturality indicates a certain quality (of an idea, an object, a self-perception or way of living) which joins a variety of elements indistinguishable as separate sources. The topic of migration is permeated not only with political but also with ethical urgencies. The most telling sign of how profoundly the mobility turn has affected the visual arts is perhaps the spread of the term global art in the discourses on art, where it is often used as a synonym for internationally circulating contemporary art. The book examines interventions by three artists who take a critical de- and postcolonial approach to the institutional structures and spaces of Western museums. The book also looks at the politics of representation, and particularly the question of how aesthetics, politics and ethics can be triangulated and balanced when artists seek to make visible the conditions of irregular migration.
of Western museums. Using their potentially disruptive and transformative interventions in American and French museums as examples, this chapter seeks to explore the potential of such interventions by artists at a time when Western cultural institutions need to be developing new policies of representation which reflect the fact that the societies and populations they cater for have been profoundly changed by migration. Recent decades have witnessed a growing recognition that new forms of bridge-building, as well as more self-investigation, are needed in museums
to its perceived value to colonial Australian culture and society, but owing to the demand from western museums and scientific institutions. Indeed for Baldwin Spencer – Australia’s foremost anthropologist in the early twentieth century and director of the country’s national museum – the primary reason for collection was to secure ‘useful’ material for the museum through the sending of consignments
museum is a modern social ritual 3 and, for some, mummies hold a special position as the objectives of specific, reverential visits to which people should be entitled to have access. 4 Egyptian mummies undeniably exist in the here-and-now; after well over two centuries of public display, they are an established object of an essentially voyeuristic Western museum culture. In the words of one commentator on the Great Exhibition of 1851 in The Times of London, ‘We want to place everything under glass cases, and to
, performance and translation, across generations, and across fraught borders of culture and place. It was a time when we were coming to see the borders of identity as dynamic, continually transgressed and remade, in specific historical relations of power, often unequal, but never static or unidirectional. Mary Pratt’s concept of the ‘contact zone’, drawn from colonial situations of dominance and transculturation, gave me a way of reconceiving the hierarchical, authoritative spaces of the Western museum. Readers may recall that the essay ‘Museums as Contact Zones’, which
to an ethical way of inhabiting a global world – to engendering a cosmopolitan imagination.2 This cosmopolitan imagination is perhaps the defining feature of those Asian artists whose work erupted onto the scene, as far as western museums and audiences were concerned, late last century. Their insistence on ethics and equity, their humour and passion, and their iconoclastic approach continue to inform ways of making art as well as engaging with questions of human value 6 186 Art and human rights and rights. As the decades have passed, many have begun to turn
art was exhibited in Western museums for a white audience, the questions about the object–viewer relationship raised by the example of the Dan mask seen on display by Lewis and Evans reveal the need to take a closer look at the art-historical relevance of Black modern artists’ encounters with African sculptures in institutions. This chapter will therefore attempt to illustrate the importance of the reception of and engagement with African artworks for the work of twentieth-century Black artists in Europe
the Western museum with access to new research, resources, and most importantly to some of Soros's money (which funded Eastern European artists’ participation, research, and documentation). In exchange, the Western museum offered an opportunity to use its material base and connections to promote the network's brand or image in the West and to gain access to new channels of information and (hopefully) to some of the Western art markets, along with the promise of new funding avenues for twenty contemporary art centers now facing deep financial cuts
appropriating things, but Britons are also incredible preservers. That’s become increasingly important. It’s too easy to say that artefacts should be returned to where they came from. I don’t think that’s always the case. I also think that the way the items are displayed in Western museums and the amount of people who come to see them