5 April 2011

Ruth Phillips lecture: Museums and the Multicultural Modern


5.30 pm, WEDNESDAY 11 May 2011

Professor Ruth Phillips

The Work of Art in Cultural Translation

Chair: Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Venue: Mill Lane Lecture Theatre 9, Mill Lane, University of Cambridge
Followed by a reception at Trinity College, Cambridge
With the generous support of Peter Chapman

Outline: In many twenty-first century museums and art galleries what's
old seems to have become new again. Despite several decades of critique
and self-doubt stimulated by the post-modern reflexivity and
postcolonial activism of the 1980s and 1990s, the distinctive modernist
display paradigms of art and artifact regularly reappear almost intact
in new museum installations. In universities, art historians have been
renewing a mandate to address a construct of "world art history" that
was popular in the early twentieth century as a way of responding to the
challenges posed by globalization and increasingly multicultural
societies. Anthropologists, for their part, have rediscovered the value
of material culture as a site for exploring cultural traditions and
experiences of culture contact.

Yet the conventional 'look' of museum exhibitions can mask real and
profound differences in the social work that museums do today and the
changed power relationships that characterize the ways that they do it.
This talk will examine the deployment of artful objects and works of
art, both historic and contemporary, in a number of recent North
American museum exhibitions and the new processes of cultural
translation they attempt. It will ask questions about the kind of work
that art performs, its efficacy in mediating cultural encounters, and
its significance as a marker of the emergence of a 'multicultural
modern' museum in the twenty-first century that differs in important
ways from the modern museum of the twentieth century.

Speaker: Professor Ruth Phillips is internationally renowned for her
writings on museums, and as a leading scholar of native North American
art histories. Her books include Representing Woman: Sande Masquerades
of the Mende of Sierra Leone (1997), Trading Identities: the Souvenir in
Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700-1900 (1998) and a
forthcoming study, Museum Pieces: Essays on the Indigenization of
Canadian Musuems (2011). She holds a Canada Research Chair at Carleton
University, in Ottawa.

RSVP, inquiries to Liz Haslemere, Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology, email: eh268@cam.ac.uk tel: 01223 764956/333516

1 comment:

  1. How about this for a design for a wall painting, in the tried-and-true Art Nouveau style?: http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8BWN3L, by the famous English artist, Audrey Beardsley himself. You can also order a canvas print of the picture from wahooart.com.