The Museum and Its Discontents. Rethinking the Museum Through Discomforting Affects

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This paper discusses the work by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia (b. 1970) in relation to “colonial discomfort” in European museums – primarily with a focus on ethnographic collections. The paper asks, how painful affects might point towards new (discomforting) futures for museums.

European museums are institutions that in a complex way are both part of larger societal structures of the experience economy and the idea of the good life – and at the same time can and do work with the discomforting. That is, the things we do not
expect, the things and stories that queer and twist our perception of society, make us uneasy.

This paper will explore the works of French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, who often works with ethnographic collections and objects in his practice. In works such as Dispossession (2013) and The Repair (2012), Attia suggests how aesthetic and affective connections can be made between historic colonialism, it’s physical and emotional pain, and contemporary times. With a starting point in works by Attia, this paper argues that aesthetic practices can be used to open towards the affect of colonial objects and collections within museums – something that might otherwise remain hidden in these objects. The paper thus asks: What kind of discomforting and painful affect does Attia’s work afford? And how might we think differently about museums in the future if they are conceived of as places of discomfort and pain, rather than places of happiness?
Periode10 okt. 2018
BegivenhedstitelRe-imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary: ICOM ICME 51ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE
PlaceringTartu, EstlandVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational