Impossible representations: counter-forensics, curatorship and visuality


Over the last decade, the definition of ‘curator’ has expanded to cover such a broad range of activities that a job description traditionally associated with expert scholarship & conservation within a museological context, but which also embodies a form of authorship within the field of contemporary art, may now be applied to restaurant menus and playlists. What is common to all these applications are tasks of selection and care.

The role of the curator prompts three questions: Should curators act responsively or responsibly? What is at stake in making objects ‘speak’? And what might a return to the material & affective afford us in a telematic, hyper-mediated, ‘post-truth’ world? The conjoined demands of protective attention and potential violence, in the way it must excise, elide and exclude, makes curatorship and its associated practices of archivalism, object-biography and remediation a useful practice through which to focus a discussion on what it means to ‘make public’.

Focusing on Poisoned Pasts (2016), a collaborative curatorial project commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to revisit the legacies of South Africa’s secret Apartheid-era chemical and biowarfare programme, and taking the form of a touring exhibition and related publications, this seminar offers a transdisciplinary perspective on working with troublesome things that signify within processes of citizenship and justice, yet resist ‘satisfactory’ representation.

VMMA-Pitt Rivers Museum Seminar Series Michaelmas 2018

Fridays at 1pm (Weeks 1-8)

The location for this seminar is in 64 Banbury Road. The rest of the series is in the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Theatre as usual.

Convened by Gemma Angel and Marcus Banks