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Souvenirs from the British Isles: Archiving, Curating, and Collecting in Contemporary Art Practice

Atkinson, Louise (2016) Souvenirs from the British Isles: Archiving, Curating, and Collecting in Contemporary Art Practice. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

My interdisciplinary practice-­based research project utilises a theoretical framework of anthropology to explore concepts associated with economic and cultural appropriation in visual art. Through investigating the problematic history of artists appropriating ethnographic objects for use in their own work, the project considers how anthropology could be used to engage audiences in a more collaborative fashion. This thesis also outlines the processes for producing a body of work using the museum strategies of archiving, collecting and curating. This includes aspects of documentation, interpretation, and dissemination through online and offline channels such as blogging and participatory arts. The two main projects included in the thesis, The Imaginary Museum and Souvenirs from the British Isles, consider how audiences can be engaged through the artwork to produce their own interpretations. The Imaginary Museum achieved this through the physical interaction of audiences collecting postcards. Through ascribing a value to the work with the inclusion of a donation box and only having postcards available within the time frame of the exhibition, the audience began to consider the works as both limited edition artworks and souvenirs of the exhibition. Similarly, there was an element of ambiguity between the artwork and souvenir in the Souvenirs from the British Isles exhibition. Here the sculptures took the aesthetic of the souvenir but were presented in the style of museum artefacts which discouraged tactile engagement. This resulted in a more conceptual interaction, with audiences discussing potential interpretations of the work with each other. Both of these works demonstrate a method of engaging with the museum format, which suggests a model for other artists working in and with collections. Through considering the museum framework as a contact zone, I also aim to suggest the possibility of a collaborative form of anthropology, which can express multiple responses and interpretations of the work of art, whilst also addressing the more problematic aspects of cultural appropriation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: souvenir, museum, anthropology, appropriation, interpretation, collaboration, archiving, collecting, curating, participatory, blogging, post-internet
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.713202
Depositing User: Miss Louise Atkinson
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2017 11:06
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16860

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