Accepted Paper:

Embodying Heritage: Temporary Assemblages, Ephemeral Artworks and Transient Communities  


Orly Orbach (Goldsmiths)

Paper short abstract:

Working collaboratively with diasporic communities and other displaced minority groups in response to museum collections, my art practice employs a range of tactile and sensorial materials to explore the idea of embodied heritage, and the museum as a liminal site for temporary communities.

Paper long abstract:

Working collaboratively with museums, diasporic communities and the wider public, I employ a range of participatory processes, sensorial methods and materials to interrogate museum collections and enable new connections to emerge between artefacts and audiences.

Much of my work uses processes through which participants make images come into view, and are also responsible for their destruction. The temporal interventions, transient communities and ephemeral artworks that are created through these processes illustrate a different approach to visualising artefacts and stories, where heritage making is a tactile and embodied encounter, a personal and social experience.

The interventions are ambiguous since they are created in response to a museum collection and yet set against it, as the temporary nature of the work questions the idea of preservation that is so central to museum sensibilities and the detached curatorial methods in which artefacts are conceptualized as separated from the bodies of museum visitors.

These participatory and collaborative approaches to exhibition making turn museum audiences into the makers, producers or editors of the work, deciding how to piece things together, to find personal connections with material, and to embody and consume knowledge sometimes in quite literal ways, by wearing, rubbing, baking or digesting the display.

Processes include biscuit-making workshops such as 'eat your own identity card' at the Jewish Museum, London, 'edible histories' created for Refugee Week UK and exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood and a range of printmaking, stamping and image-making techniques including themed temporary tattoo station.

Panel P032
Museum Affordances: Collections, Interventions, Exhibitions