Decolonising on different scales?
Dear all, thanks yo much for presentations. I listened to all four of them over the last few days and they resonated a lot with me. What struck me especially in retrospect is how different your examples were. From reflecting and critising the whole architecture of many modern museums (Francesca) to laborious redesign of one showcase (Nina and Lisa). This was a fascinating range to see. Especially the latter one told me that decolonisation is also something which needs (next to the big / questioning of the whole-criticism of course) also the small, careful work that is also thinking through a space which is only as big as 1m x 1,5m. I would be curious, how did you feel about the different examples presented? Could you resonate with them, did some new links come up for you by making you part of one panel?
Johanna, thank you, you raise a really good point -- and indeed one that struck me, too, when watching the other presentations… I guess, for me, it emphatically underlines the complexity of exhibitions as texts and the need to engage on many levels in their making: it can't just be about the selection and arrangement of objects, but also, it can't just be about the space or just about the texts accompanying the objects as focusing on one aspect and losing sight of another might well undo the efforts you make in that one aspect.
This is something I find difficult to negotiate in research as well, to find that balance between really focusing on the detail (such as the typographic design of a label) while not losing sight of how this sits in a bigger context and is experienced never on its own but in this context… Also part of what makes exhibitions so exciting!
Hi Johanna, thank you for your comments. I am very glad to know that our presentations resonates with you. Answering to your question, being part of this panel definitely made me think about my paper from a different perspective and seeing all the other wonderful presentation, which discuss so critically aspects of exhibition I am not focused on professionally, was extremely encouraging. Knowing that similar issues are visible in different fields but they all converge in the exhibition making process was very interesting and definitely something I was not expecting.
Thanks, Jona and Francesca, for your answers! And thanks a lot, Jona, for your thought about exhibitions as being complex texts, which has to be considered and thought through, especially in a process of decolonisation. On the one hand side, I totally agree!!! On the other hand side, I am still struck by Nina and Lisa's example which also shows that thourough efforts can be undertaken in one space of the museum, meanwhile leaving other parts (totally) untouched. The visitors seemed to have understood that and valued the "small" changes. I think this is interesting because it could also give rise to pragmatic approaches in attempts to change museum institution. Don't get me wrong, I very enthousiastically witness the changes and discussions in many museums in the context of more awareness of the colonial past in the last few years. But on an abstract level I am still trying to combine the different scopes of your papers in this panel. =) I guess maybe your contribution, Jona, is the best example to bridge these attempts as you have so wonderfully described modes of transformation in the museum that are not changing everything right away but creating a space of multiple temporalities, the old and the new, the original text and its comment.