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Tête-à-tête With the Exhibition Le monde en tête


Tête-à-tête With the Exhibition Le monde en tête

Smith, Sabrina (2023) Tête-à-tête With the Exhibition Le monde en tête. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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The display of anthropomorphic objects such as headdresses in museum exhibition blurs the boundaries of objecthood and personhood. The Musée des Confluences’ (Lyon, France) 2019 exhibition, Le monde en tête: la donation des coiffes Antoine de Galbert, stages a slippage between subject and so-called “primitive” art objects. Le monde en tête showcased over 500 headdresses mainly from Asia, Africa, South America, and Oceania, donated from the private art collection of Antoine de Galbert (1955-). The exhibition’s curators elided the headdresses’ historical contexts and provenances, instead concentrating on their aesthetic qualities and the collector. Their curatorial strategies foreground de Galbert’s collecting psychology, which provocatively sets up a binary between Western “self” and cultural “other.” Through a close analysis of the exhibition, this thesis analyzes a fantasy of personhood as inextricably linked to objecthood. Relying on a multidisciplinary methodology, I focus on the emergence of two figures: the European collector as “self” and the Asiatic female as “Other.” I begin my two-part investigation by using critical whiteness studies and museology to expose how racialization becomes structured through the collector’s fabrication as a mythic figure. In Part II, I draw from the conceptual framework of ornamentalism to examine the exhibition layout, which emphasizes the porosity of things and people. Additionally, I use ornamentalism as an object-based approach to analyze a Timorese headdress created by the Tetum-speaking Indigenous community from East Timor Island, Indonesia, and the female figure who haunts its surface. At once present and absent, material and abstract, embodied and disembodied, these figures invite us to rethink the hybrid conditions of objecthood and personhood. My project weaves together art historical analysis, curatorial critiques, and theoretical perspectives that inquire into the very object conditions through which personhood is realized.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Smith, Sabrina
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:28 March 2023
Thesis Supervisor(s):Potvin, John
ID Code:991940
Deposited By: Sabrina Smith
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:27
Last Modified:21 Jun 2023 14:27
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