As part of the Deviant Practice programme, Bruno Moreschi and I have developed a collaborative research on using commercial computer vision algorithms to read artworks from the Van Abbemuseum collection. We premiered the video, one of the final results of this study, during the Museum Take Over: Bodies of Knowledge (3-5 May). This symposium brought us, alongside other Deviant Practice researchers, to talk about the research developed in the past year.
The Deviant Practice programme describes its objective as: “to deviate from the systems of knowledge production enshrined in the modern art museum. We understand the prefix ‘de’ in deviance in relation to notions of demodernising, decolonising, deprivileging or decentralising”. Amongst all researchers/artists, a possible red thread seemed to be a curious look into the archives and documents of the museum (as an institution), in order to interrogate what histories and experiences are told not only from what’s in “the data”, but also what’s below/on top/on the sides of it. What makes this a particularly interesting process is that most researchers focused on the generative aspects of this look toward the archive, with a clear interest of foregrounding the process of looking (rather than the results of it).
Examples of this analysis were:
Sam Ashby’s research into “Vagevuur, Eindhoven’s internationally renowned gay fetish club, which closed its doors for good in 2008” discussed the history and culture of a club, but the processes and ethics of embodied research, fetish, kink, and what all of this means for being queer today. It also questioned: when is it ethical not to remember, or to disappear?
Jessica de Abreu and Michael Karabinos archiving of the Gate Foundation’s documents foregrounded the many choices taken in the processes of remembering/forgetting. From moving boxes full of unsorted documents to catalogued folders, through the archiveability of scribbles made in the files themselves, there is much to be learnt from the processes of archiving.
Now hearing Jessica de Abreu and Michael Karabinos speak about their research on the Gate Foundation Archive here at @vanabbemuseum. How to deal with a "deviant" archive? Drawings on the folders, uncatalogued floppy disks and many other… #deviantpractice #bodiesofknowledge pic.twitter.com/NSfNXeuKJj— gabriel pereira (@gabrielopereira) May 3, 2019
- Evelien Scheltinga’s research into the years between 1940-1944 when the museum was under the Nazi regime’s control looks through the gaps of archives, to unravel “the fascist influences and national socialist narratives entering the museum.” Sitting inside of the museum and seeing pictures of that time, with Nazi flags, made me shiver and consider how much we don’t (and can’t) know about the past, but how much slips between the cracks of history.
At @vanabbemuseum Bodies of knowledge museum takeover, Evelien Scheltinga presents on the museum's exhibits under the fascist Nazi regime 1939-44. Crazy to see the fascist influences on arts and culture. pic.twitter.com/0SikAF5oTa— gabriel pereira (@gabrielopereira) May 3, 2019
Thanks to the Van Abbemuseum and all researchers for making this happen and for sharing their deviant bodies of knowledge.
Read the programme and other presenter’s research in the Van Abbemuseum website.
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