Recycled objects: curatorial practice and the engagement of contemporary art in the interpretation of historical African figurative sculpture - NMS Research Repository
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Journal article

Recycled objects: curatorial practice and the engagement of contemporary art in the interpretation of historical African figurative sculpture

21 March 2017

Abstract

Through a case study approach those acts of assembling, juxtaposing and exhibiting collections of objects, which constitute the western museum, are analysed as artistic processes which produce the museum as a form of ‘public art’. The paper takes as its fulcrum L’Ange, a contemporary artwork formed from recycled materials by the Fon artist Gérard Quenum. It examines how this contemporary work is deployed in National Museums Scotland to recycle historic collections of African figurative sculpture into present-day displays. In particular, it focuses on how Africa is presented, represented and aestheticized in, and for, audiences in Scotland. Drawing on the Museum’s public statements, archival documents, and a semi-structured interview with the curator of the African collections, the study reflects on wider issues regarding the relationship between artistic and curatorial practices and the respective roles of artist and curator in producing that expression of public art that is a museum display.

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