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Touching Art: The Poetics and the Politics of Exhibiting the Tree of Life

Touching Art: The Poetics and the Politics of Exhibiting the Tree of Life by Maria Emilia Fonseca
English | 2011 | ISBN: 1443827126 | 160 pages | PDF | 1,5 MB

This study focusses on the exhibition of the Tree of Life, a sculpture made in Mozambique of decommissioned, dismantled weapons, created to celebrate peace and commissioned by the British Museum, chosen to be the symbol of the 'Africa 2005' season of cultural events and exhibited in its Great Court between February and October 2005. This artwork was first exhibited in Maputo before being dispatched to Britain and it is presently on display at the Sainsbury African Galleries of the British Museum, in London. This dissertation will move along two converging routes: the articulation of the meaning(s) produced within the exhibition and the role of exhibitionary institutions in the creation of social knowledge. A central topic of discussion will be the different practices and sites of exhibition of the Tree of Life sculpture in Britain and in Mozambique, in an endeavour to illustrate/establish the differences which determine and/or condition the specific approaches used in the two distinct cultural contexts within which it was exhibited. The discussion will evolve towards exploring how a new discourse on the exhibition of contemporary African art questions and challenges both curatorial practices and cultural concepts of collecting, displaying and interpreting art objects and negotiating meaning.

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