Our second feature is one effort to undo the rationale of permanent collections. The majority of permanent museums’ collections are categorized by region and attributed to their mysterious donors, whereas the rest of the museum’s exhibitions are often curated “conceptually” and/or chronologically and/or under the banner of aesthetic movements. One could easily make an argument that area studies, and colonial geographies situate the collection development logic of the museum. Let’s tear this apart.
We asked writers and artists to create a “petty materialist” “fuck this origin” “did you know about this other provenance” guide to a collection. Or to create pathways that this world needs but currently does not have.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan provided us with a guide on “How to Prepare to See the Royall Family Portrait Currently on view at Harvard’s Fogg Museum” Preparations including visit Black Graves–abandoning the names of famous white poets–Running. Sloan provides a primer on how to prepare for all museums visits.
Dena Al-Adeeb and Nada Shalaby’s “This Stays Between Us” viscerally rewrites memories, and counter official narratives with a quasi-fictive archive of the authors’ own making. Theirs is a stolen guide: stolen back, stolen for, stolen against–stolen against ownership for the possibilities of new archives, new memories.
Uzma Z Rizvi “Violent Collections ┃Anxious Things: Archaeology and Ali Cherri’s A Taxonomy of Fallacies”takes us through a critique of western archeology and collecting practices, in order to contextualize the contemporary practice of artist Ali Cherri.
William Anderson’s “The Art Of Cleaning And The Tragedy Of Mess” renders the history of racialized maintenance work to present day invisible labors explicit. Extending Mierle Laderman’s question: “after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?” Anderson materializes the invisible labors involved in the ideals of radical performance, protest and revolution.
Finally we interviewed Bhanu Kapil and Cauleen Smith, in order to situate how these contemptorary artists are grappling with museum savior narratives, and the stakes of the art space--and their thoughts on best practices on severing the permanence of museum regulations.
We are thinking about continuing this issue into a project, ultimately creating a database of “petty materialist” tours and so that we can return to them as we visit collections the future. If this interests you, email us!
Eunsong Kim & Gelare Khoshgozaran