Author Archive | Haidy Geismar

Hornsleth: identity cards, ethics, and ‘art’

I read about this on the BBC this week and felt so uncomfortable I thought it was worth a post here:
The Danish artist Kristian von Hornsleth has drawn criticism from the Ugandan government from intervening in the state project to get everyone to have identity cards. He has offered pigs and goats to the inhabitants of one particular village in exchange for them taking his name in this process.
Storm over pig-for-name artist
At first I thought this was a provocative and interesting intervention into the issue of forcing citizens to conform to state regulated identity practices and materialities. Carrying federally recognized id cards is taken for granted in the USA but remains a contentious issues in the UK.
Then I went to the artist’s website (www.hornsleth.com/).…

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The Lost Museum

Museums on the web are, in general, rather disappointing. At worst a selection of digital images with directions for how to get to the institution, at their best, they use the potentials of the internet to create new online visitor constituent (see the Brooklyn Museum’s Myspace page for instance, www.myspace.com/brooklynmuseum.
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Possibly one of the best ‘virtual’ museums, The Lost Museum is a digital recreation of P.T Barnum’s American Museum in New York, which burned to the ground in 1865. Visitors are encouraged by the man himself to solve the mystery of the fire. You can explore the museum in three-dimensions with innovative use of image, film and sound, search archival material, maintain personal files on the case, and engage with specific objects.…

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Museum + Anthropology = Blog, and Other Online Phenomena

Haidy Geismar, NYU
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Map showing the location of the last 100 viewers of Materialworldblog, source www.statcounter.com
Alongside this site, there are several recent additions to the Museum/Anthropology blogosphere which are definitely worth checking out (any other good links, please add to the comments below!).
museumanthropology.blogspot.com
The bi-annual journal, Museum Anthropology, now has it’s own blog, which will be used increasingly to supplement materials published in the journal. The blog offers a forum in which articles published in the journal can be discussed formally as a form of post-publication peer-review. It will also dynamically post notifications of current exhibitions, symposium, book releases and other relevant material. Scholars interested in the fields of museum studies and material culture studies are urged to submit announcements and other materials of interest to the community.…

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The Death of Taste

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The Death of Taste, ICA, London November 23-24 2006, examines the work of making, styling and fashioning taste within the context of increasingly speeded-up fashion trends and the constant plundering of the recent past. It combines academics from the fields of material culture, sociology and fashion history with leading figures of the fashion industry.’
The event is organised by the Alistair O’ Neill and Dr. Joanne Entwistle, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, UK and Prof. Alison Clarke, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria.
For more information see www.ica.org.uk

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Freud’s Therapeutic Boxsprings

The Couch: Thinking in Repose, Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria, Exhibition Review 5 May – 5 November 2006
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Martina Grunewald, PhD candidate in Design History and Material Culture, University of Applied Arts, Vienna
On Sunday, 5 November 2006, the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna closed the doors to “The Couch: Thinking in Repose,” a special exhibition commemorating Freud’s 150th anniversary this year. Using a cross-disciplinary approach, curator Lydia Marinelli focused on literature, art, science, and design from the mid-nineteenth century until today in an illuminating exploration of the most intimate and complex relationship between neurology and—well—a divan conspicuous by its own absence. The exhibition encompassed paintings, sculpture, photographs, books, furniture, china, and tableware as well as interviews and music. The original psychoanalytic couch, however, was missing.…

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Materialising Democracy

Mukulika Banerjee, Anthropology, UCL
This week, reportage of the mid term US elections seems to devote almost equal coverage to the Democrat re-capture of the Congress and the close race to finish in the Senate as it did to malfunctioning electronic voting machines. Indiana and Ohio were singled out for the most unreliable machines and Florida was reported to have reverted to paper ballots. Thus, who people voted for seems to be hinge crucially on how, literally, they cast their vote. The materiality of the voting process, namely ballot boxes, counting procedures, polling stations do not usually feature in election analysis, but when they do, we can assume that something is either wrong or novel. In the case of the US elections, it was both.…

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Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)

Daniel Miller, Anthropology UCL
My impression is that students coming into anthropology today, at least in Britain, are not necessarily expecting to read very much of the writings of Clifford Geertz, compared to my time as a student. But his death on Monday should remind us of just how much a loss that is. I have spent my academic life enamoured of fieldwork and ethnography and I suspect the single biggest influence on this was the sheer pleasure of reading Geertz. As far as I know he never would have described himself as particularly associated with material culture per se, (please comment if you know otherwise) but he was the quintessential cultural anthropologist, and his work shows how much that American tradition of cultural anthropology, (to some degree as opposed to European social anthropology) provided in its heyday an almost seamless acceptance of the materiality of peoples lives and the need to give due credit to the form of cultural order and life.…

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On the Circulation of Ethnographic Knowledge:

Aaron Glass, University of British Columbia
Contemporary intercultural representation is facilitated in large part by a number of objectifying media that were relatively novel just a century ago. Barring direct social contact, we tend to experience other cultural groups via mediating technologies of representation—illustrated texts, photographs and films, museum exhibitions, staged performances, now websites—whose formats often occlude their various producers and blur their contexts of production (be they academic or touristic, educational or commercial). Such media encourage a global purview on cultural diversity, but they also function to limit knowledge reproduction through their unique materialities and the particular social dynamics of their circulation. For instance, like citational practices within academia, dramatic images tend to be propagated through processes of visual reiteration and recursive (mis)representation.…

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Three objects exemplify for me the capacity of things to trigger or make thinkable otherwise elusive ideas.

They are, first, a small figurative sculpture of a mother and child from late 19th or early 20th century Borneo; second, a rubber-stamp mounted on a small block of laminated wood, bearing a barcode and a label stating it to have been handcrafted in Emeryville, California, ©2003 Hero Arts Rubber Stamps, Inc.; and third, a gold-coloured metal invitation, also laminated, to the opening of the Crypt of Civilization at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Bornean figure is part of the Charles Hose collection in the British Museum. It is not a celebrated piece and is not even on display. The mother clasps her baby so that its head appears to replace one of her breasts, not simply to squash it as an avid little sucker might do.…

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