Heritage and the Politics of Culture
As part of an ongoing conversation on ‘heritage’ that began at an IIAS conference on Indian Medicine (June 2016: http://iias.asia/indianmedicine), the presenters will engage in a critical dialogue on exhibiting archives as art, drawing on each of their ongoing exhibition practices. This panel will focus on two entwined issues central to exhibiting an archive: first, the poetics, politics and process peculiar to archival exhibitions; and second, the role of place in heritage discourse and archive practice – both in reference to returns (repatriation, restitution, reunification) and the place of archive production, conservation and display. While in recent years there has been a marked increase in heritage returns the world over – a category that includes museum repatriation of antiquities as well as restitution of cultural objects to source communities – there has not been a critical, reflexive museology to keep up with these changes. Nor has there been as much focus on archives as places in which art, books and manuscripts might be produced, used, conserved, displayed, and repatriated. Drawing on their ongoing projects (on Company-era botanical art; spatial aesthetics of manuscript archives; performative archives; and archive as myth), the presenters will first outline each of their exhibitions and then engage in a joint conversation on conceptualizing, curating, visualizing, and producing archival exhibitions that attempt to put heritage back in place. In so doing, they will attempt to map ways in which archives are exhibited as art, art as archives.