So what of the title… Let: an act of reverse incorporation
Let is to rent, to allow, to give passage. Let is “an expression that associates a condition or definition with a restricted scope.” The museum is a restricted scope. One condition associated with museum is concept “the West.” Edouard Glissant once said,
“The West is not in the West. It is a project, not a place.”
The West shadows empire, and in their wake we find our stuff stored in curio-cabinets and plexiglass boxes so future generations can enjoy the certainty of our deaths. This is mistaken as inclusion and incorporation but is perhaps us as consumables or us as posterity.
Copy for the November 10, 2016 public screening of Let reads:
“Join artist Andrea Carlson and collaborators as they present and discuss the new video LET: an act of reverse incorporation. Carlson’s project, with support from the Carolyn Foundation and Mia, explores the role of encyclopedic museums, like the institute, an their role in obtaining, curating and contextualizing certain objects from their collections. The video includes footage of a public performance created by Carlson and community members that places sculptural replicas of various artworks within Mia’s collections into a new landscape outside of the museum. The evening’s film and discussion will invite audience members to reflect upon and interrogate the collection and display of particular kinds objects in Museums. Free, tickets required. Public welcome.”
The film is based on the mental image of a grand procession, a reversal of a grand entry, the expulsion or grand exit from an ethnographic collection. Various objects from the museum’s collection would be gently carried out of the museum and buried in the ground outside of the museum. The objects in Let weren’t actual museum objects, but plush recreations, foldable, monstrously oversized or wearable. Once in a safe location outside of the museum, they were folded up and buried. An act of giving the earth back its stories, setting them in the ground to be recycled.
Participants, many of whom assisted with the filming of the procession, were invited to rewrite wall texts for objects throughout the museum and to read their writings out loud. Voice recordings were made and serve as video’s soundtrack.
In a November 1st, 2016 interview, Tim Gihring asked: “The Let project contemplates the historical role of museums in collecting, preserving, and displaying objects—including some things never intended to be preserved or displayed. How did you approach that history?”
I answered thusly, “The authority of museums to tell the stories of indigenous objects came from a history of cultural dominance. As empires expanded their domains, collecting objects from the indigenous inhabitants was seen as collecting for posterity in anticipation of cultural assimilation. The term “posterity” is important because colonial empires and their surrogates were buying futures in indigenous cultural scarcity and death.
This is part of the story of museums. I’m interested in the stories that accompany objects, and often these stories are very telling. They locate power within the object and sometimes they locate power within those who own or owned the object, such as the benefactor, monied collector, or the museum itself.”
To read the full interview go here.
To watch the full film go here.