The resonant Museum: Sound, art and the politics of curating

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


Rasmus Holmboe

This dissertation explores the relational reciprocity between sound, museum, listening, curatorship and the wider social and political contexts these constitute and produce. Its point of departure is a series of curatorial projects carried out by the author at the Museum of ContemporaryArt in Roskilde, Denmark. Through an embedded methodology of curating-as fieldwork analysis and critique curatorial practice, sound art discourse and the museum institution. The figure of resonance works as a fundamental relational model of thinking that permeates the dissertation. In this model museums, art practices and curatorship all resonate with their social and political surroundings and histories. As such, resonance also describes how curatorship both sets in motion and is set in motion. Doing research by curating-as fieldwork literally resonates with its surroundings.The two fundamental variables in this relational model is the art museum and sonic art practice that are both viewed from a curatorial perspective and within a biopolitical frame. This frame enables an analysis that combines the current political situation of art museums in Denmark with aesthetic discourses on sound. The combination of these perspectives provides a view that is able to perform cultural analysis and political criticality situated within contemporary museum practice and curatorship. The relationship between immersive listening and discursive interpretation that underpins sound art discourse figures on several levels in the dissertation. I argue that the tension between these elements is important and that it can be addressed through the concept of sounding situations that I develop and refine. Sounding situations are first and foremost embodied and situated – but they are also culturally conditioned and contextualised.This enables a curatorial perspective where the situatedness of artworks, listeners, institutions and politics alike becomes central to the understanding of how matter, sensation and meaning are inextricably entwined in the encounter with sounding artworks. The concept of sounding situations is unfolded specifically in relation to museum practices regarding the archive and the exhibition. Combining museology and sound studies, the dissertation discusses how current political debates about the role of the art museum can be reinvigorated by the perspectives of artistic and curatorial practice with sound.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherKøbenhavns Universitet, Det Humanistiske Fakultet
Number of pages212
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

ID: 224897913