1:30 PM (EDT)

Éric Langlois

Professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)

The Work of Art and the Human Experience of its Absence: The Case of Identification Selfies in a Pandemic Time. A Museological and Anthropological Perspective (in French)

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Striped Shirt (1910)//Interpretation of Self-Portrait with Striped Shirt by muldoonbd Credit: Leopold Museum, Vienna

The pandemic crisis, via its lockdown period and the closing of museum institutions, kept us away from real museum things, from musealia (Cameron, 1968). It is through their capacity to serve human actions and identities (Julien and Rosselin, 2005) that they give rise to an appropriation of the object (Lefebvre, 1970). Likewise, sounding out the social role of objects enables us to understand the various plays of forces that impact individual and social identities (Bourdieu, 1979). It is in these conditions that we propose to put this forced distancing from the museum object into perspective. It is the context of art collections, even their digital existence, that it is particularly pertinent to observe a phenomenon which was already latent in the pre-COVID-19 era: the staged identification selfie. The #gettychallenge, #artenquarantaine or #museumathome hashtags notably served as its vectors on social media (Langlois, 2020). Though transforming objects is a way of marking an appropriation that transforms those who manipulate them (Turgeon, 2007), we underscore that this was done—for the observed period—in a playful and creative manner. It is a reciprocal construction that depolarizes the concepts of “nature” and “culture” and which joins objects and subjects as “mediators” (Bonnot, 2014).

Eric Langlois is a professor of museology and heritage at UQO. A specialist in the research field of cybermuseology, he notably created Canada’s first undergraduate program in this field. After a career devoted to developing cybermuseology applications (sites, games, exhibitions), UQO hired him in 2002 to develop a program in cybermuseology for the École multidisciplinaire de l’image (ÉMI). He also created, along with Professor Nada Guzin Lukic, a complete undergraduate degree in museology and heritage. Moreover, he was part of the ÉMI professorial team that set up a new MA program in museology and arts practice. Combining art theory and practice, he carries out research mandates for various organizations and institutions. He is renowned for his unique expertise in Canada and on the world stage.

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