The permanent and official blog of the University of Leicester's School of Museum Studies PhD student conferences and special events.

28 March 2011

Hop the Seventh - Fluidity and Mutability

Helen Saunderson, Workshop: The (Un)museum

Combining the empirical methodologies of psychology with practical creativity and artistic practice, Helen's Unmuseum aims to combine objects which have not normally found a place within museal environments. What is it about these objects which accords them this non-museum status, I wonder? Is it to do with their (im)material form? Their social being? It's often unclear.

It's particularly unclear where the line is drawn between art and the everyday - particularly in the work of artists such as Joseph Beuys - and where the lines between the disciplines often appear. The idea of this workshop is to create an object which does not exist: whether some combination of real and unreal objects; an object you always wished existed; or anything you like.

In idea showers, we can reflect and record these objects, these never-were wishes. The room is silent, and heavy with potential. And in words, images and concrete form, we 'create' our unreal objects. People seem enraptured by their imaginations. There is a poetics about silence. These unreal objects will be deposited around the Museum Studies Building in a mutable artwork which we shall be free to recombine and move, to respond to and reinterpret. These will then get combined into a website, The Unmuseum. I'll get Helen to keep me informed of its' progression throughout the course of the conference, and when it goes online, I'll give you a link.

Who is the curator here? What are the traditional elements of museological practice which are retained in this project, and which are discarded? How can the museum interact with collaboration, with corporeality, with artistic and emotional creativity? How can the artist facilitate the relationship between the audience and the establishment? How much of this is subversion, and how much is the development of a mutally respectful dialogue? Academic research can cross boundaries, and different people can operate in different modes of being. As PhD researchers, we're particularly lucky to be able to investigate those disciplinary and social boundaries, combining and recombining our thoughts, practices and theories. I wonder as to the capacity of the human imagination for invention, for creating and accepting potential, and all the terror which it brings, as well as its wonderment. I'm creating my own Unmuseum object here, I suppose, in these words which are not that which they represent. Is it the words which are the never-were object - or the space between them and their original subject? All, I suppose, are differently valid, different kinds of record, of object.

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