Interpreting Unsettling Contemporary Art

Jul 20

We’re excited to make available as a free download the essay, “Building Meaningful Interpretation Around Unsettling Contemporary Art”, a chapter from our recent book, Interpreting the Art Museum.

Written by Dr Michael Murawski (Director of Education & Public Programs at Portland Art Museum) and his colleagues Kristin Bayans and Phillippa Pitts, the chapter explains how the museum interpreted a complex, unsettling, and physically-immersive multimedia installation, The Enclave (2013), by award-winning Irish photographer Richard Mosse. The work documents the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in which over five million people have died.

According to the artist, “The work does not prescribe a set of responses, and remains ambiguous in an unsettling and seemingly irresponsible way.” The museum’s education team decided to construct a series of opportunities for visitors and staff alike to respond to and react with the installation, using physical space within the exhibition, social media and direct response mechanisms.

The authors believe that their experience with The Enclave can provide valuable guidance to other museums as they plan interpretation programs around similarly complex contemporary works or art.

Building Meaningful Interpretation Around Unsettling Contemporary Art can be downloaded here.

The full contents list and sample spreads from Interpreting the Art Museum can be viewed here.

We welcome your feedback! Do you have experience to share? Feel free to leave your comments below!




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