Involvements. The Post Representative Museum Between Entanglement And Solidarity

1225 words - 5 pages

For a very long time there was no doubt that museums produce identity, explore the theme of “private” and “foreign”, (re)-produce national distinctions and present valuable objects and objective values. Although this occurred, for a long time it was not spoken about in the museums themselves. Hence the museum of modern art was initially, and in most cases, a protagonist, one that made itself invisible with its seemingly neutral “white cubes.” Yet museums are caught up in power structures. And the natural premises of the museum—its apparent neutrality and objectivity, at the same time its differentiations with their far-reaching consequences, the power of the way in which they are presented, ...view middle of the document...

In the light of this background, what was formerly perceived as exhibiting was re-conceived and expanded in an experimental manner.

Hence, in the exhibition area, there was increasingly talk of a “crisis of representation”5. Meanwhile this concept—more or less courageous, more or less unconvincing—seems to have also arrived in the big museums.6 However, in the process one should be certain not to forget the numerous radical reclamations and struggles for representation, which have rebelled against the powerful knowledge of the institutions, from a feminist, anti-racist or anti-colonial perspective. Instead, the crisis of representation can be understood as a consequence of these struggles for representation. On the one hand they attacked the huge exclusions from the seemingly objective canon of “art” and “history.” On the other hand they point to the means with which the western institutions and the white gaze are declared universal, in that they generate the so-called “others” as an exception and in doing so keep their own interests and stance invisible (very much like the white cube). This powerful production of knowledge, which has made itself a self-appointed universal subject and, it seems, others to objects of knowledge, uses the term “epistemic violence” to describe postcolonial theory. It was precisely these anti-colonial, feminist and anti-racist battles that formed the basis for representational criticism in art and theory. Yet these forced the institutions that produced knowledge by means of political organization and persistent insistence into self-reflection and self-criticism. They opened up the powerful interest in the perspective that at the same time made their own stance invisible, declaring it to be the norm.

The history of these battles against and in favor of representation cannot simply leave a post-representative form of access behind them. Instead, one could ask to what extent a process-related curatorial practice—in as much as it perceives itself to be a public and intellectual action—no longer could, and no longer had to, express itself in solidarity with the existing social battles. The cultural philosopher and sociologist of culture Oliver Marchart speaks in this context of exhibitions as “ex-stances”—in the sense of taking a stance and a position. For him, the curatorial function consists of the organization of the public and hence the “organisation of the impossible,” inasmuch as it is aimed at something that “is defined as impossible in a particular setting of hegemonic discourse.”7 Hence the constant involvement of the curators, not only perceived from the perspective of their involvement, but also from the other angle: the conscious and permanent involvement8 with a sense of solidarity, in public...

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