The Power in/of Collections
Interaction with the audience - Talk, Performance and Discussion
How powerful are collections and archives? This event will get to the bottom of this question, creating a dialogue between the audience and scholars from the Technical University, Humboldt University, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The talks, discussions and performances are based on the exhibition “Power in/of Collections”, shown as part of the Berlin Science Week.
Collections and archives are places, that (re)produce worldviews and hegemonic perspectives, or conversely, focus on marginalized artistic expressions or stories of resistance. Building upon the long history of conflicts concerning the politics of collecting, the event scrutinizes the dynamic between museums, academic science, and artistic or activist endeavors.
The scholars will delve into the subject matter through three main topics, and share sample materials from the exhibition with the visitors. The first topic, “Power of Archives,” focuses on collections created by social movements and marginalized groups. Here, the emphasis is on the archive as a space of resistance, where histories are nurtured, documented, and remembered, creating alternative narratives distinct from those found in larger museums. These institutions are addressed in the second topic, the “Power of Collections”. Here the following questions will be tackled: How to deal with art collections that are built upon social inequalities? What power structures are reproduced within the artworks, catalogs, and museum databases? At the core of the third topic, titled “Critical Art Practice,” are artists’ power-critical perspectives on institutions. This concerns the potential of artistic works to create counter-narratives and induce shifts in perspective.