Ghosts in the Machine: The Artistic Intervention as a Site of Museum Collaboration-accommodation in Recent Curatorial Practice

By Christopher R. Marshall.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The primacy of the traditional museum installation of more or less unmediated artifacts set within serried ranks of dusty vitrines has been challenged in recent years by an increasing range of alternative exhibition strategies aimed at reframing museum collections along more engaging and contemporary lines. Of particular interest in this respect has been the trend towards utilizing artist commissions or artistically inspired displays as a means of opening up contemporary museums to a more poetic or even mysteriously immersive museum visit. By focusing on a series of recent high profile ‘intervention’ case studies, the article will consider just what is at stake when visitors are presented with an innovative museum that acts, in effect, more like an individual artist in a contemporary art gallery than how a museum is (or perhaps we should now say was) supposed to act. How might contemporary museum visitors be expected to negotiate displays of these kinds with their attendant sense of risk, hybridity and challenge to traditional understandings of authenticity, knowledge and the objectivity of the museum’s institutional voice? In exploring these issues, the paper aims to highlight both the challenges as well as the opportunities created by this form of museum dialogue as it continues to evolve in often unexpected ways that both complicate as well as enrich the already charged experience of engaging with museums and art galleries today.

Keywords: Artist Interventions, Artist Commissions, Contemporary Curatorship, Poetic and/or Immersive Exhibition Displays

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.65-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.496MB).

Dr. Christopher R. Marshall

Senior Lecturer in Art History and Museum Studies, School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Christopher R. Marshall is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Museum Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he teaches subjects on museums, curatorship, the art market and theories of art history. His publications on Neapolitan Baroque art and the market include contributions to Painting for Profit (Yale, 2010); Mapping Markets in Europe (Brepols: 2006); The Art Market in Italy (Pannini, 2002); and articles in The Journal of the History of Collecting, The Burlington Magazine and The Art Bulletin. His publications in contemporary museum studies include Sculpture and the Museum (Ashgate, 2011) and contributions to Museum Making, Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions (Routledge, 2012); Reshaping Museum Space (Routledge, 2004) and Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and its Institutions (Routledge, 2007). He is also the author of Macmillan Interpreting Art: A Guide for Students (Macmillan, 2001), and A Deep Sonorous Thing: The Newman College Collection of Art (Melbourne, 1993). His research distinctions include two years support from the Australian Research Council; the Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellowship (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Washington DC, 2001); a Visiting Senior Lecturing Fellowship at Duke University, Durham NC (2005); a Senior Fellowship at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2006); and a Senior Research Internship at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan (2007).

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