Between Memory and Museum is based on extended conversations with 38 extraordinary folk and tribal artists from across India. Museums are influential sites of knowledge about indigenous art forms, and they have a long history of regarding the communities that practise them as anthropological subjects. But many of the artists from these communities are our contemporaries, and they belong to cultures that are very much alive in the present. So how do they feel about their representations? Do these communicate a sense of lived life? What are the artists' own ways of remembering and passing on tradition? Who has the power to put whom in a museum? The artists responded to some of the issues raised, and based on the dialogue that followed, the book reflects on the museum as an institution - both as a real site and a kind of metaphor or interface - in the way it preserves, creates and disseminates knowledge.
This is an important, thoughtful, and sensitive book... It makes you reconsider the multiple ways of thinking about art, its role, and its relationships; it presents quite beautifully many imaginative and eloquent images; it introduces to those of us outside India some of the riches of different community art traditions; and most importantly it shows us the artists speaking for themselves. A wonderful resource on many levels. â€” Christopher Hudson, Publisher, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The short film that accompanies the book is set in the Manav Sangrahalaya, an anthropological museum in Bhopal, India, where the conversation developed in the book was initiated. It provides a context for this dialogue between words and images, and features interviews and performances by some of the artists. The film reflects the trajectory of the book by introducing viewers to the origins of these art forms, tracing how they have changed, and exploring the relationship between what has made it into a museum and what remains outside.
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