Ólöf Gerður Sigfúsdóttir

In Between

In this presentation I will reflect on “In Between,” an exhibition project I curated at Hafnarborg museum in 2011. Aiming to provide an alternative to curating practices on the one hand and academic research on the other, the project explored the possibility of moving beyond the dichotomies of practice vs. theory, intuition vs. knowledge, artistic practice vs. scholarly practice. It was the output of a collaborative working process involving a group of contemporary artists and scholars from the field of humanities and social sciences, reflecting on the concepts of collecting, wonder and knowledge. The project was rooted in the Renaissance, drawing on the history of museums as public institutions with particular attention to curiosity cabinets and the dawn of the scientific revolution. Employing an institutional critique  approach, my intention was to create a platform for artists and scholars to examine the historical and cultural context of the means and modes of knowledge production within the particular context of museums. Central to the project was the juxtaposition of universities and museums as institutions for the production and dissemination of knowledge. Being a PhD student wanting to place academic work a cultural sphere, I found myself oscillating between the two contexts. Both are vehicles for fostering and hosting research, although museums tend to present themselves as repositories of knowledge while universities like to think of themselves as producers of knowledge. In many ways, the Renaissance curiosity cabinet can be seen as a common denominator between the two, being an attempt to make sense of the hitherto unknown world in an empirical, tangible way; through the process of collecting, storing and displaying of natural and artificial objects.

In this presentation I will describe the curatorial process as epistemic practice, with particular attention to the visual artwork made for the exhibition and their situatedness in the museum space.