Simon SHEIKH: A Conceptual History of Exhibition-making

First broadcast: Mon 03.05.2010, 11.00 Uhr MEZ

Since 1989, we have not only seen (geo)political and cultural changes in Europe, former west and east alike, but also a renewed interest in the exhibition as the main vehicle for contemporary art, not only in terms of presentation, but also production: the exhibition as medium. We have also seen the specialization of exhibitions, into what can be characterized as instituted genres of exhibitions. We must therefore ask ourselves not only what a history of exhibitions will tell us about art, but also about history, and about how it is written and read, rewritten and re-read. And whether such histories are necessarily always written by the victors – short term as well as long term, internationally as well as nationally?

This talk will look at a few examples, both canonical and non-canonical, in order to sketch out how a typology of exhibitions must be established, but also to ask what makes exhibitionary articulations readable and translatable, and indeed successful and unsuccessful within their parameters and strategies.. in other words, the question is whether it possible to predetermine the effects and affects of exhibitions within their chosen type and/or efforts to not conform to type? And what are its relation to histories and counter-histories, i.e. what sort of horizon is set up by a given exhibition in its types, forms and articulations?


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