Creating New Realities: Contemporary Art in the ‘World Art’ Museum Gallery

By Megha Rajguru.

Published by The Arts Collection

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

Artistic museum intervention has become an established practice since late
1980s and has been used by museums as a curatorial and interpretive tool
ever since. Exhibitions such as “Uncomfortable Truths: The Shadow of Slave
Trading on Contemporary Art” held at the V&A in London (February-June
2007), and “Queering the Museum” at the Birmingham Museum and Art
Gallery (November 2010-February 2011) are recent testimonies of museums’
welcome approach towards invited artists’ interventions. Author Miwon Kwon
has described commissioning institutional interventions negatively as the
museum’s self-promotional tool and the resulting status of the artist as
commodity. Prior to this, in his 1997 essay ‘The Artist as Ethnographer?’ Hal
Foster described the artist’s subjective engagement with institutions and
communities as “ethnographic self-fashioning”. Whilst museums are engaging
with its multi-cultural audience through events and activities, the potential of
the artistic sub-altern voice in bringing both personal and global associations
to the collections offers a non- monologic interpretive approach. Moreover, it
allows for a generating of contemporary meanings of objects and their
relationship with the diasporic cultures they formed part of. I will re-visit my
own work, an exhibition of a series of interactive artworks that examined the
non-tangible meanings of Hindu deities in the Croydon Clocktower Museum
in 2008 in order to re-evaluate the role of the contemporary artist in museum
intervention art practice. This article makes a case for a more democratic
process of intervening the museum, one that opens it up as a valuable and
accessible site for fresh epistemological engagements by the artist with
collections and their meanings.

Keywords: Museum Intervention, World Art, Curation, Interactive Art, Hindu, Diaspora, Croydon Clocktower

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.149-168. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.203MB).

Dr. Megha Rajguru

Lecturer, School of Arts and Media, University of Brighton, Brighton, East Sussex, UK

A practising artist and a researcher, I was awarded a Doctorate in Fine Art by the University of Brighton, UK, in 2010. I am currently lecturing on the Fine Art programme at the University. I have worked as a gallery educator at Tate Britain in 2005 and at the Brunei Gallery in London in 2007. My artworks emerge from site-specific situations and their meanings are further developed through the audience’s interaction with them. I work in video, sculpture and installation and have exhibited in the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery in Sussex, the Croydon Clocktower in London, and the North Light Gallery in Yorkshire, in 2009, 2008 and 2006, respectively.


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