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The panel explores how artists, cultural heritage practitioners, archaeologists and others working in the field of visual and material culture represent and interrogate displacement, border-crossings and migrant experiences and the institutionalization of displacement in settings such as museums.
In 2019, two art installations focused on issues of migration, displacement and loss gained widespread media attention. At the Venice Biennale, Christoph Büchel's Barca Nostra, an installation of the wrecked fishing boat on which hundreds of migrants died while fleeing from Libya in 2015, was criticized for its placement in the midst of a spectacle of global contemporary art as crass and lacking in context. On the Mexico and United States border, the architecture studio Rael San Fratello installed Teeter-Totter Wall, seesaws straddling the border fence, on which children played briefly before the work was removed. Photos of the work went viral and it was primarily celebrated for promoting a vision, however fleeting, of harmonious connection. This panel seeks to critically explore the ways that artists, architects, cultural heritage practitioners, museums and others working in the field of visual and material culture strive to represent and interrogate geographical displacement, border-crossings and the resultant migrant experiences, especially in terms of cultural politics, the emotive and performative nature of visualizations of displacement, and the ways in which displacement is institutionalized within global settings such as museums and galleries. This cross-disciplinary panel welcomes proposals from archaeologists, architects, artists, and museum practitioners as well as academics from, but not limited to, the fields of archaeology, anthropology, geography, critical heritage studies, museum studies and the visual arts. We are interested in proposals taking a case study approach and those that critique the success and problematics of such works, particularly by considering community responses.