Collaboration Exhibition Research – Working Group

Convener: Monica Eileen Patterson

“Collaboration – Exhibition – Research” will explore possibilities for creating more dynamic, democratic, and participatory spaces of public encounter and emergence within and around exhibits—creatively (re)conceived. This approach engages public participants in co-creation and dialogue around locally situated (but potentially trans-locally networked) exhibits, using the special facilities provided by Concordia University’s CEREV digital exhibition laboratory.

As Cory Kratz has noted, exhibits are “a process, a product, and an event.” As manifestations of representation, experience, and expression, exhibits operate simultaneously in multiple registers. Collaborative, community-engaged curation produces new forms of knowledge, breaking from the “scholar/curator as expert” model to recognize and engage with the expertise that subjects have about themselves. As sites of encounter, exhibits can also be prompts that trigger reflection, discussion, and debate. But the knowledge that exhibits evoke is rarely recognized or recorded by scholars and museum practitioners. How can we better document—as research—what happens in these social spaces? Specifically, how might exhibits—broadly construed—engage with past violence and contemporary injustice to address suffering and inequality in contemporary societies?

A primary goal of this workgroup is to create a community of curators, scholars, activists, practitioners, and community members who can support one another’s efforts in exploring the potential of collaborative exhibits to address historical violence and socioeconomic inequality as a form of new knowledge production.

Our task will be threefold: to collaboratively produce a sourcebook of pertinent curatorial examples, to workshop one another’s (potential) exhibit projects, and to build a lasting community whose members will continue to collaborate and engage with one another in the years to come.

The workgroup will begin before Encuentro convenes with online introductions, sharing of resources, and pre-circulation of 1-page project descriptions. We will meet as a workgroup for all normal meeting times. During the first two days of meetings, at the CEREV lab, each participant will present 1-3 examples of existing curatorial projects instructive in thinking about the possibilities and potential pitfalls of doing collaborative curation. These contributions will be assembled in a shared digital “sourcebook” for collective use. Presentations should include audio-visuals, and may also be presented as a collaboratively curated installation in the lab space itself.

Throughout the rest of the workgroup, participants will workshop their projects in the large group, and in consultation with CEREV’s technology director, Lex Milton. During Encuentro, participants may also wish to begin producing digital components and even partial installations or experimental test-runs of exhibit components for feedback and review by group members, to be vetted on the last day. Attendance is mandatory for all scheduled sessions.

After Encuentro, participants will be invited to contribute to a collaborative blog entry to appear on the CEREV website to document the workgroup experience.

A Note on the Host Institution:
The Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence (CEREV) at Concordia University was founded to forge new ground in scholarly and public understandings of the aftermath of mass violence. A one-of-a-kind laboratory workshop focused on the development of exhibits based on ethnographic fieldwork and cultural and historical scholarship specifically addressing violence and its aftermath, CEREV also functions as a collaborative hub bringing scholars, curators, and community members together to creatively reimagine what exhibits can be. Read more about CEREV here.