Graphic Design as Critical Practice
Thank you for your excellent presentation – I learnt a lot from your typologies and case studies. I thought you might be interested to know of a couple of other examples, if you don’t already, although I’m not sure if they quite meet your criteria…
I wonder if you are interested in the ‘Miscast: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushman’ exhibition (1999) at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town? It is a bit different from the examples you cover, because the response (to the racist “Bushman” dioramas at the South African Museum, as it was then) was curated/designed by an external artist, Pippa Skotnes, in a different institution from the imperial display. The displays specifically spoke to each other though, and Skotnes did do some interesting things in terms of graphic design, like layering newspapers on the floor (image here: http://www.cca.uct.ac.za/cca/projects/miscast-archive ). A good write up of the case is: Shannon Jackson & Steven Robins (1999) Miscast: The place of themuseum in negotiating the Bushman past and present, Critical Arts, 13:1, 69-101, DOI:10.1080/02560049985310051
Also, Subhadra Das’ project, Bricks and Mortals at UCL, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/projects/bricks-mortals has an emphasis on exhibition graphics, and actually employs the blank space paradigm you suggest. You can learn more about it at the excellent podcast by Sushma Jansari, here https://thewonderhouse.co.uk/episode-1-subhadra-das-bricks-mortals Hope you enjoy!
Claire, thank you!
and these are great -- both are new to me, thank you! I am hoping that this will be the start of a larger exploration, and the 'artist intervention' is another interesting category (especially looking at the position of the institutional author and the invitation to authors other than the institution to comment and intervene) -- I came across an interesting project at the Field by Chris Pappan (sadly not in the galleries anymore, so I wasn't able to see it myself), it works, similar to the AMNH diorama, with an superimposing of (visual) information: http://www.chicagomag.com/arts-culture/January-2019/Chris-Pappan-Field-Museum-Native-American-Halls/
@jona Dear Jona, thank you for your great presentation. I found extremely interesting this question of nowness, and relation to time between the moment of the narration and the one of the experience, and how multiple voices can be expressed in the museum by considering the reflexive role of graphic design.
Your conference made me think about a reference that you might already know, which I thought related closely to your presentation. It is the conference that James Bradburne and Jean Luc Martinez gave at the Louvre in 2017 entitled “Les Cartels au musée, la voix des oeuvres”. Here is the link to the conference (in french) https://www.louvre.fr/les-cartels-au-musee-la-voix-des-oeuvres-0 . It also raises this question of how several voices can be expressed in the museum, and the key role played by “cartels”, (the translation would be “plates” or "labels" I think). It deals with the question of reflexivity brought by written and non-written elements in museum exhibitions, to allow the encounter between people and exhibited objects. About the relation to time you were mentioning in your paper, there was also here this question of how for example the Louvre can work with a mediation chain inherited from the past.
This is also closely connected to the “Dialogues” developed by James Bradburne at the Pinacoteca di Brera, with the idea of inviting masterpieces from other collections to have a visual conversation with artworks of the permanent collection, using these dialogues to reinstall the whole permanent collection. ( https://pinacotecabrera.org/en/media/james-m-bradburne-presents-the-second-dialogue-andrea-mantegna-new-perspectives/ )
So I hope these references can find an interesting echo with your research, with this question of how graphic design can enable to renew the relation of the visitors with objects and artworks through time.
So thank you again. And I also saw you will soon be publishing a book about Graphic Design in Museum Exhibitions, I really look forward to discovering it.
@marina_khemis Dear Marina, many thanks for these references, which I didn't know yet, so thank you!
Yes, I think this 'nowness' of experience is really important as it also points to the very present and very individual position of the visitors and their prior experiences, the social context in which the exhibition visit takes place (with a school group, in a family, on your own…) -- but also, as you point out, the question of voice and not just the presence of multiple voices but their legibility as multiple voices… thank you again!
Thank you so much for your insightful and rich presentation detailing your North American Odyssey. I really found your categorisation of time in the museum into museum temporalities (story time, discourse time, exhibition time, museum time, experience time) and how they can exist together super useful. I also really liked your different categories for annotations (covering/concealing, commenting, adding voices/perspectives, intervening).
Both of these typologies add to my vocabulary and conceptual thinking regarding museum graphic and narratives. It’s a really interesting contrast to have with what has been happening here in the UK in the wake of Colston – where the focus has been very much on the physical removal of the statues. For example, at the British Museum where the interventions have really focussed on the pedestal. I.e. the idea of Hans Sloane being pushed off the pedestal (‘depestalised’) and placed within the glass case.
What’s interesting is just up the road at the British Library I think they’re planning a much more graphic-based approach to deal with their problematic busts (including Sloane) in the lobby. An indicator perhaps of value the representative institution’s place on graphic text and physical objects.