Ethnography, Exhibition Practices and Undiscipined Encounters. The Generative Work of Amulets in London

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In this chapter we argue that ethnographic fieldwork, when seen as an inherently collaborative process through which the world is continuously generated, can be a guide for practicing exhibition work as a form of transdisciplinary research. We suggest that seeing exhibitions - like ethnographic fields - as sites of encounters that provisionally produce subjects, objects and disciplines shows a way out of the representational traps long haunting exhibition work. This stance requires a rather radical notion of transdisciplinarity in exhibition work that takes us further than suggesting a fruitful relationship between ethnographic work and museum practice and explodes received notions such as source communities, audiences, user groups and curators. We thus work from an idea that disciplinary practices are situated effects of collaboration, recognizing that perspectives are formed in unpredictable encounters and potentially by any actor who shares the concern at hand. Overall, we argue that exhibitions that work from such an 'undisciplined' point of departure, modelled on an equally unorthodox version of ethnographic practice, have great potential for producing novel ideas. Fieldwork in central London in connection with an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection forms the backbone of our contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExhibitions as Research
EditorsPeter Bjerregaard
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 160574105