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Thursday, April 7 • 2:15pm - 3:45pm
New Voices in the Profession

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Sensorial Inclusion: Multi-sensory exhibition strategies at institutions of contemporary art in Canada
Ellen Belshaw, McGill University
While the prevalence of ocularcentrism – the prioritization of sight above the other senses – has been addressed by scholars and practitioners regarding anthropology and history museums, it remains a central issue in many museums of art and similar cultural heritage institutions. Experiencing art with senses other than sight are often discouraged in contemporary exhibition spaces, excluding many different modes of creation and participation for both artists and visitors; often this means excluding artists working in multimedia or non-ocular media, as well as Disabled people and people of less ocularcentric cultures (i.e., communities who prioritize oral traditions). Concurrently, many institutions are trying to improve the range of artists they exhibit and the demographics of visitors who attend their spaces but are facing many barriers.
This exploratory research is guided by the hypothesis that there is a correlation between the inclusion of non-normative perspectives in institutions of cultural heritage and the ocularcentric tendencies of those institutions. By surveying and interviewing professionals working in contemporary art institutions in Canada and using grounded theory methods, this research aims to parse out the factors that have led to the positive inclusion of multi-sensory works of art and/or multi-sensory ways of experiencing art, and what barriers there are for inclusion where this is not standard. By analyzing the levels of ocularcentrism of contemporary art institutions, this research can be used to the benefit of cultural heritage professionals to better understand and represent a wider range of demographics in the artists they exhibit and the visitors they attract.

Beyond the Fountain: Mapping a New Entrypoint to the Society of Independent Artists
Miranda Siler, Pratt Institute
"Beyond the Fountain” is a digital humanities project being created by the author in order to fulfill the requirements of a Master’s-level art history thesis. It will create a new entrypoint into the history of the Society of Independent Artists by utilizing data from the first exhibition catalogue. The project seeks to align with the original democratic spirit of the show, giving each artist an equal opportunity to be discovered through an interactive map. At the back of the 1917 catalogue is a list of names and addresses belonging to society members. A map created from this data will function as an entrypoint for further research. Possible lines of inquiry include finding clusters, thereby exposing hyper-local artist communities; searching for artists from a particular location; or looking for outliers and researching how they learned of the Society of Independent Artists. Overall, the goal of “Beyond the Fountain” is to explore the Society of Independent Artists in a new way, with an emphasis on bringing lesser-known artists to light. As the exhibition displayed the artists’ work in a non-hierarchical order, so will the map, using coordinates instead of the alphabet. Keeping with the spirit of “no jury, no prizes,” this map can help to disrupt the narrative that a “homogenous group of men” was responsible for the modern art movement in America. The hope is that “Beyond the Fountain” will spark new discussions, research, and points of view relating not only to the exhibition itself, but twentieth century American art more broadly.

This presentation will talk about the various steps used to transform a list of names and addresses into an interactive map. It will cover how the project used Pomodoro for OCR, OpenRefine for data clean-up and reconciliation, and ArcGIS for geocoding and visualization. The need for curation, addressing that a dataset is not objective or static but instead subject to a series of decisions made by the art historian, will be emphasized as a key part of working with data. The presentation will also touch on the lifecycle of digital humanities projects and how they are often generative in nature.

Preserving [Spectral] Knowledge: Indigeneity, Haunting, and Performing the Embodied Archive 
Sam Regal, University of California Los Angeles
Conservation and archives practitioners face practical and ethical challenges when tasked with the preservation of intangible indigenous artworks. Indigenous knowledge is often communicated in the form of embodied performance: it is transmitted through ceremonies, rituals, oral tradition, and lived experience. Indigenous knowledge is also relational, predicated on the belief that “[k]nowledge is shared with all of Creation […] It is with the cosmos, it is with the animals, with the plants, with the earth that we share this knowledge.” In approaching such material through a postcustodial lens, and invoking the Records Continuum Model (RCM), practitioners must appreciate the human body as a form of archive. As a body/archive, it is densely relational, inter- and multidimensional, affectively activated, and imprecisely duplicatable. Complications concomitantly abound. What happens when Indigenous people self-consciously confront and employ tropic mechanisms? This, as I see it, is a charged nexus through which we might better understand the embodied archive, spectral indigeneity, and the challenges of preserving these conceptual materials. My research examines the work of Jordan Abel and Rebecca Belmore, two contemporary Indigenous artists, and considers how their performance practices serve as forms of archival bodies. I also interrogate preservation practices surrounding these materials through a postcustodial lens.

Sponsored by 
The Oberlin College Libraries in honor of Barbara Prior’s contributions to ARLIS/NA and the ARLIS Ohio Valley Chapter
Ricker Library, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Courtney Hunt

The Ohio State University

Michele Jennings,

Ohio University


Ellen Belshaw

McGill University

Miranda Siler

Pratt Institute

Sam Regal

University of California Los Angeles

Thursday April 7, 2022 2:15pm - 3:45pm CDT
Hyatt Regency Chicago Toronto Room
  • ID S038