Curating Culture: behind the scenes of museums and archives
February 23, 2015. 5:30-7:30
NYU in London. 6 Bedford Square. WC1B 3RA
Password: curating culture
The aim of this workshop is to highlight the differences between the academic and museological approaches to arts education, and thus, again, place the students in a position of understanding their learning process. For this project Mahnaz Yousefzadeh will collaborate with Peta Motture, Senior Curator at the Victoria & Albert, who has had a first-hand involvement in the work undertaken in building and curating the new Medieval and Renaissance wing of the museum. This experience, as well as her forthcoming book on the Culture of Bronze, a subject matter LS students encounter in CF and SF series, provides the students with a glimpse into the work behind the scenes of exhibitions and glass showcases, which often “hide” the very process of culture creation our students are called upon to engage with. In a previous workshop held in London in 2013, students came together to appreciate that far from being a ready-made product, the museums are creative, ideological, and economic spaces of production and problem solving.
Assigned Text: Peta Motture, Inspire, engage ,
Power Point: NYU Curating Renaissance 23 Feb 2015
Passord: Curating Renaissance
3 thoughts on “3. Curating Culture”
Every object that is created by an artist usually represents something that is relevant in their lives. Many of the objects that are seen at the V&A often were placed in a certain part of the museum sorted by the time frame the piece was made, where the piece came from, and the background story behind the item. Many of the art and statues that are placed in the museum often have a person that is posed in a way that reflects their life and the society they lived in. For example, many of the ancient Italian pieces reflected Catholicism in that time frame and had art of significant people in that era which explained their position in the society.
“Catalina! Mea! Help me put on my chopines. I have to make an appearance by the Palazzo Medici tonight!” Shouted Giovanna, a young woman of noble status. Two serving maids came bustling about the corner of the hallway and into her bedroom, each bearing a two pairs of the staggeringly tall shoes the lady had requested. “No, those won’t do,” Giovanna said, pointing at a black leather and wood pair, “Those are much too plain.” An emerald studded pair was rejected for being too low in height, “I must have the tallest, I must make a statement.” Catalina and Mea exchanged a pitying look, knowing how uncomfortable the chopines were, and how much they strained Lady Giovanna’s feet. Being of noble birth was not always a life of comfort. The tallest pair of chopines the Lady had requested were 16 inches in height; the taller the chopines the higher the status of the wearer. She would not be able to put them on herself, nor would she be able to walk without the support of both Catalina and Mea on either side of her. However, she would tower over most the other ladies, and that, was all that mattered in the high society.
The Middle Ages, known as “the Dark Ages”, to me usually symbolizes a period of cultural and economic recession of European history. Yet. it was through my visit to the museum, I was enabled to trace the mark of the Middle Ages from a different aspect. Through my visit, I saw medieval people’s eagerness for seeking the light of hope during a period that is full of dark and hopeless. Among the exhibits, there is a candleholder, which really impressed me. This special candleholder was shaped as an angel, symbolizing religion as a light. At my first glance of the candle holder, it suddenly became a magic time machine, bringing me back to time period that it came from. There, I witnessed a solemn religious ceremony of the Middle Ages. I could almost see the Gothic church and the candles, like stars in the black skies, on the two sides of the church. And of courses I saw people sang to God, hoping to receive salvation through their faith. This was the story I saw through this unique candleholder. It tells story because it brings me the smell of its ages, such is different from the one of my age, and causes shock inside me. This kind of shock makes me cannot help but want to seek the story of the item in my own mind. And that action was what I actually did.