The Archive and the Museum: framing contemporary art practice, Engage Journal

This article, titled ‘The Archive and the Museum: framing contemporary art practice’ was published in Engage Journal 31: The Past in the Present in December 2012.

It examines the ways in which artists use appropriated curatorial devices to examine the relationship between past and present.

The archive and museum have been the subjects of artistic exploration in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, from Claus Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum (1965 – 77) to Grayson Perry’s recent exhibition Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (2011). Museum practices are exploited and subverted not only to challenge the institution, but to also create the effect of a mimesis, whereby the contemporary mimics the apparatuses of display, which in turn bestows some of the aura of the historical artefact upon the artwork.  In this article I examine the ways in which the creative appropriation of museological and curatorial tools, such as labels, vitrines, plinths and archival modes of presentation, sets up a relationship between the past and the present.

Engage Journal is the international journal of visual art and gallery education. Each edition of this twice-yearly publication focuses on a separate theme to form a definitive collection of work on all aspects of visual art and gallery education. The article is available here.