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Philipp Schorch

Drawing on a narrative study of Australian visitors to the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, this article explores the hermeneutic complexities of migration encounters through the meaning-making processes of museum visitors. Throughout this process of interpretive negotiations, museum exhibitions and visitor biographies become intertwined through narratives of migration. The empirical evidence emphasizes that the humanization of migration through stories and faces renders possible an understanding, explanation, and critique of sociopolitical contexts through the experience of human beings. Migration emerges as a practice that transforms cosmopolitanism from an abstract, normative ideal into a lived, interpreted reality. This article, then, is devoted to the cosmohermeneutics of migration encounters, that is, to an experienced and thus “actually existing cosmopolitanism” (Malcomson 1998) that entangles self and other through visitors' interpretive dialectics of reflexivity and empathy. The article suggests a cosmopolitan museum practice that opens interpretive spaces for shifting subjectivities and multiple identifications across differences and commonalities.

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Bruno Haas, Philipp Schorch, and Michael Mel

Abstract

This article introduces the art historical method of functional deixis into the study of material culture in anthropology. Functional deixis begins with a thorough empirical description of communicative effects—visual and embodied—produced by a material thing on the beholder. It then proceeds by tending to a kind of formalisation that enables us, on the one hand, to sharpen our intuitive reaction to the thing and, on the other, to obtain detailed knowledge about the ways material things produce significance. Here, the method is applied to a tatanua mask originating from present-day Papua New Guinea and currently housed at the Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde in Leipzig, Germany. Based on a thick description, we propose an in-depth interpretation of the mask as a complex response to a fundamental injury, articulating a symbolic expression of grief (left side) with an iconic expression overcoming grief (right side) after a passage through a real word expressed through the front of the mask. In doing so, the article offers a tool to study with rather than a text to read off.

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Jeanette Atkinson, Tracy Buck, Simon Jean, Alan Wallach, Peter Davis, Ewa Klekot, Philipp Schorch, Wing Yan Vivian Ting, Caroline Turner, Glen St John Barclay, Jennifer Wagelie, and Graeme Were

Steampunk (Bradford Industrial Museum, UK)

Framing India: Paris-Delhi-Bombay . . . (Centre Pompidou, Paris)

E Tū Ake: Māori Standing Strong/Māori: leurs trésors ont une âme (Te Papa, Wellington, and Musée du quai Branly, Paris)

The New American Art Galleries, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond

Scott's Last Expedition (Natural History Museum, London)

Left-Wing Art, Right-Wing Art, Pure Art: New National Art (Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw)

Focus on Strangers: Photo Albums of World War II (Stadtmuseum, Jena)

A Museum That Is Not: A Fanatical Narrative of What a Museum Can Be (Guandong Times Museum, Guandong)

21st Century: Art in the First Decade (QAGOMA, Brisbane)

James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn)

Land, Sea and Sky: Contemporary Art of the Torres Strait Islands (QAGOMA, Brisbane) and Awakening: Stories from the Torres Strait (Queensland Museum, Brisbane)

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Museums in a Global World

A Conversation on Museums, Heritage, Nation, and Diversity in a Transnational Age

Conal McCarthy, Jennifer Walklate, Rhiannon Mason, Christopher Whitehead, Jakob Ingemann Parby, André Cicalo, Philipp Schorch, Leslie Witz, Pablo Alonso Gonzalez, Naomi Roux, Eva Ambos, and Ciraj Rassool

The following conversation took place during the Critical Heritage Studies conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 6 June 2012. The initial idea and topic was suggested by Kylie Message, the session was chaired by Conal McCarthy, and the recording was transcribed by Jennifer Walklate and edited by Conal McCarthy and Jennifer Walklate.