FRIDAY MAY 21, 2021
2:00 PM (EDT)

Anne Bénichou

Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Reconstitutions of Colonial Exhibitions in Contemporary Art Practices: Dissensual Dialogic Apparatuses (in French)

Mohamed Ali Fadlabi & Lars Cuzner, European Attraction Limited (2014)
Over the last three decades, artists such as Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gòmez-Peña, Mohamed Ali Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner, or the collective Action Zoo Humain have reconstituted in their works the display apparatuses used as part of colonial exhibitions at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Responding to the economic, scientific and political interests of Nation states, these colonial exhibitions granted some the cultural, social, intellectual, scientific and sexual power to observe and reify others. Their current reactivations are primarily carried out by artists that come from former colonies or cultural minorities, on the invitation of institutions that seek to advance practices promoting intercultural exchanges and decolonial processes. Despite this conjuncture, which favours a comprehension of their critical impact, these artistic propositions often trigger polemics and misunderstandings and prompt feelings of unease, anger and humiliation. I will seek to show that they generate a tension between various conceptions of the “museum as a contact zone,” in order to reveal the unexpressed disagreements that underpin inclusive and reconciliatory institutional practices. They transform them into dissensual dialogic apparatuses.

Anne Bénichou is a professor of art theory at École des arts visuels et médiatiques and she is the director of the graduate museum studies program at UQAM. Her research focuses on archives, memorial form and historical narratives conveyed in contemporary artistic practices and institutions, with the mission to conserve and disseminate them. She is currently engaged in research into the transmission of ephemeral and performative works. She is the author of Muntadas. Between the Frames: the Forum (2011), Un imaginaire institutionnel. Musées, collections et archives d’artistes (2013) and Rejouer le vivant. Les reenactments, des pratiques culturelles et artistiques (in)actuelles (2020). She edited the multi-author volumes Ouvrir le document. Enjeux et pratiques de la documentation dans les arts visuels contemporains (2010) and Recréer/Scripter. Mémoires et transmissions des œuvres performatives et chorégraphiques contemporaines (2015). Her recent articles have been published in Intermédialités, Performance Research, Signata, Ligeia, Thema and Museologia & Interdisciplinaridad.