Issue #4:
“Between the Discursive and the Immersive: Curating Research in the 21st Century Art Museum”

Issue #4:
“Between the Discursive and the Immersive: Curating Research in the 21st Century Art Museum”

Stedelijk Studies

Lisa Sudhibhasilp, Masks, casts and interactions, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.
August 24, 2016
Issue #4: “Between the Discursive and the Immersive: Curating Research in the 21st Century Art Museum”

Authors and contributors: Mark Wigley, Helen Charman, Dr. Emilie Sitzia, Francesco Manacorda, Angela Bartholomew, Sarah Ganz Blythe, Saara Hacklin, Christel Vesters, Margrethe Troensegaard, Barbara Mahlknecht, Victoria Walsh, Annette Jael Lehmann and Anna-Lena Werner, Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin

Editors: Marie Laurberg and Margriet Schavemaker

Stedelijk Studies is the online, peer-reviewed academic journal published biannually by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The journal publishes research related to the Stedelijk Museum’s collection and institutional history, as well as museum studies (for instance, education and conservation practice) and current topics in the field of visual arts and design. The first issue (fall 2014) was dedicated to “Collecting Geographies,” followed by the second issue (spring 2015) on “Exhibition Histories,” and the third (fall 2015) on “The Place of Performance.”

This fourth issue of Stedelijk Studies, edited by Marie Laurberg and Margriet Schavemaker, is a selection of papers delivered at last year’s conference co-organized by the Louisiana Museum in Humblebaeck, the University of Aarhus, and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “Between the Discursive and the Immersive: Curating Research in the 21st Century Art Museum.” The conference addressed the fact that research is occupying a greater and more autonomous role than ever before in the modern and contemporary art museum. No longer restricted to supporting exhibitions and the collection, this type of knowledge production in the museum has become an independent, often interdisciplinary form of programming with its own curatorial staff and budget. In this regard, Paul O’Neill talks of a “curatorialization of education” and Miwon Kwon of a “discursive turn” in the museum sector. At the same time, a major part of the knowledge production in the twenty-first-century art museum results in the creation of spectacular exhibitions and collection displays, designed to offer audiences a unique and immersive experience. Whereas didactic exhibitions and a focus on collection preservation may have previously prevailed, museums are increasingly embracing a synaesthetic dispositif, an experiential model of curating, to engage their publics.

In other words, knowledge production in museums of modern and contemporary art oscillates between the discursive and the immersive, in turn resulting in a wide tender of curatorial and research models. Therefore, the core questions that are being addressed with regard to this issue are as follows:
–How can exhibitions function as mediums for research?
–How can artistic research contribute to art museums?
–What is the research value of immersive exhibitions?
–What is the role of the sensory experience in gathering and disseminating knowledge in the museum?
–What is the function and position of public programs as curatorial models for research and knowledge production?
–How does the public contribute to the museum’s knowledge production?

The contributing authors to this issue of Stedelijk Studies come from various backgrounds; from art schools to museums and from artistic research to hard-core academia. In the quest to arrive at an analysis of the significance or definition of research in twenty-first-century art museums, the key terms that we brought into play—the immersive and discursive—are frequently deployed. They pop up in various guises, and do not remain unquestioned. We are confident, though, that these “traveling concepts” can serve as a common ground, allowing readers to relate the various arguments to one another and arrive at their own critical analysis.

To read the full issue of Stedelijk Studies: “Between the Discursive and the Immersive,” please visit the journal’s website.


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