Oval Wall Hanging Commemorating the Coronation of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV and Queen Halavalu Mata’aho

Dr Jenny Newell, Curator, Oceania (Polynesia), Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum
Tongan wall hanging.jpgTonga, 1967, 39 x 29 cm. Donated by Noelle Sandwith Oc,1994,01.64
This wall hanging was made in Tonga to commemorate the royal coronation on 4 July 1967. I selected this object partly as a commemoration of my own; King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV died on 10 September 2006. I also chose it because I like its quirky, fundamentally Tongan conjunction of materials: a plaited pandanus leaf backing, decorated barkcloth surface, finished with a postcard pasted in the centre. The object’s home-made quality and use of everyday materials lends an intimate aspect and conveys, more effectively than mass-produced royal merchandise of the sort we see in souvenir shops in Britain, a fond, individualised attachment to the royal couple.…

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Snapshots: Portrait of the Mobile

Larissa Hjorth, Games and Digital Art at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

1. Snapshots: Portrait of the mobile explores the ways in which we imbue mobile technology as an extension of ourselves; both in terms of self-expression and self-identification but also as an object inflected by the particularities of the socio-cultural. In this project we are greeted by portraits of mobile phone users. But rather than face portraits, we are met by their mobile phones. On the one hand this work explores the rhetoric around the personification of technologies, most notably the mobile phone. On the other hand, the work investigates how much one’s mobile phone can tell a story about their user/ owner. Can the mobile phone be symbolic of one’s lifestyle?…

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Light and Luminosity

Mikkel Bille, University College London

Light: From old English leoht, meaning luminous, from Indo-European leuk-, to shine, to see.

Light has been studied as metaphor for truth in Philosophy, and within Science in terms of lumen (as external and objective matter) and lux (as subjective and interior; as sight and mental sensation). Additionally, light, as a ‘building material’ has been an important element in the development of architectural as well as artistic forms. More recently some aspects of light, such as colour and luminosity, have gained significant influence in material culture studies. Many studies indicate that people conceive, use and experience colours and the luminous qualities of things in culturally specific ways. Colours and surfaces of objects may be emitting or omitting brilliance, tint, or saturation and such variations may signify sacred, spiritual or other particular social dimensions.…

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“Brain of the Earth’s Body”

Review: “Brain of the Earth’s Body: Art, Museums, and the Phantasms of Modernity,” by Donald Preziosi (2003); University of Minnesota Press
Sharon Macdonald teaches at the University of Manchester
Donald Preziosi’s “Brain of the Earth’s Body: Art, Museums, and the Phantasms of Modernity” (2003, University of Minnesota Press) is the published version of his 2001 Slade Lectures (an annual series of Art History Lectures at Oxford University). Somebody I know who went to these lectures told me that he found them fascinating but almost impossible to understand. I can see why. But at least in the book form you can read sentences several times (and untangle all the multiple partial parentheses of words). It’s an effort worth making.
Preziosi makes an argument against a representational account of art that is similar to Gell’s in Art and Agency.…

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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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Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts.

García Canclini, Néstor (2001) Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts. University of Minnesota Press
In Consumers and Citizens, García Canclini suggests the necessity to consider how the changes in modes of consumption have altered the possibilities of citizenship in the Latin American context. Through several essays the author proposes a romanticized idea of citizenship and social movements in Latin America that struggle to survive by being redefined; people in mega-cities (particularly Mexico City) answer the questions on belonging, rights and interests traditionally located in the public sphere in the realm of private consumption.
This book belongs to the 1990s trend within anthropology, sociology and cultural studies on globalization, Americanization, multicultural identities and mass consumption, with a particular focus on the cultural industries.…

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Fake Branded Clothing

An Exploration of Its Presence in a European Periphery

Magda Craciun, PhD Student in Material Culture, University College London  e.craciun@ucl.ac.uk
ordinary socks in turnu magurele.jpgA widespread phenomenon, re-production is morally and legally contested and combated, culturally derided, and socially dismissed as belonging to the lower social strata. I am interested in approaching it in its everyday complexity, by focusing on the lives of objects, and meanings and consequences of their presence; on practices, and preoccupations of people living in the vicinity of these objects; on institutions these objects bring together; and on the trans-national routes along which these clothing items move.

In order to grasp as much as possible of this complexity, I have designed
a multi-sided ethnography, choosing as field sites Istanbul (the main regional
producer of fakes); “Europa” market on the outskirts of Bucharest (considered
the source of 80% of the counterfeited goods on the Romanian market); and Turnu
Magurele (a provincial town in south Romania, chosen for its typical clothing-scape,
in which “Europa” clothing predominates).…

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Two Drinking Cups, Egypt 1550 BC

Politics of Viewing
Stephen Quirke; Reader, Curator of the Petrie Museum, University College London

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What gives a viewer the right to look at a picture? Or an object? Or these
two drinking cups, of fired Nile mud, made three and a half millennia ago in
the lower Nile Valley, and buried at a site an archaeologist chose to dig in
1914 and chose to call Harageh, the pair now sits on a low glass shelf in a
university museum in London. What gives us the right to learn, might be the
recognition of political realities, that London had troops occupying Egypt in
1914, that London museum-goers and university students have higher living standards,
better health service, higher literacy rate, that politics, society and the
economy, after all, exist.…

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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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