Klekot Ewa, Institute of
Klekot Ewa, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, Visualizing the Intangible: Visualizing the intangible: some remarks on visual representation of intangible heritage.
The crucial role of “living tradition”, understood either as a skill being practiced and passed, or performative cultural forms being actualized, points at necessarily participatory character of intangible heritage. On the other hand, techniques of visual representation in the West have developed as techniques of the observer. The paper, beginning with a brief archaeology of the concept of intangible heritage and an equally brief review of visual practices developed in heritage safeguarding, will firstly put contemporary visualizations of heritage within the context of its “UNESCOization”. Short examination of the “UNESCOizing practices” of intangible heritage will follow, with a special focus on visualizing traditional pottery skills considered intangible heritage and inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with references to other visual materials. The discussion will focus on questions concerning visualization of embodied knowledge and skills, as well as participatory character of intangible heritage. The latter will be also discussed in reference to a project by a Polish industrial ceramist and designer, Monika Patuszyńska, concerning closed down porcelain and stoneware factories in Poland.
The UNESCO World Heritage convention’s mission is to safeguard culture heritage in its diversity, tangible or intangible. Simultaneously, the WH convention may also be understood as an impetus for commodification of culture. WH inscriptions attract heavy global tourist mobilities, where authenticity is at its core. How can these contradictions be balanced in management of intangible culture forms? How can audio-visual means contribute?
I will address these questions, based on my doctoral project of the inscription of the Vega Archipelago as a new, Norwegian World Heritage Site, in 2004, where the traditional practice of eider down harvesting became its figurehead. In my project, I was following the inscription as a global process in the making, as well as working together with the down harvesters in the archipelago during the seasons. The practice is founded on a very delicate vulnerability, where the birds have the final say and the human must try to protect the birds from disturbances from predators as well as other humans. Thus, in the brooding season, when “the real activity of the inscription takes place”, strangers cannot visit the islets. This paradox and challenge inspired my work with the film related to my project, “Queen of birds”, and I will present some ideas and challenges of mediating this delicate relationship.
Retangling is a process of deliberate mess-making, future-hacking, and generally complicating essentialised narratives of belonging such as exclusivist (micro-) nationalisms. Based on a preliminary study of Europe’s migration museums and new memory institutions which attempt to address the diversity of Europe’s cultural histories, this speculative paper will critically analyse how these pasts are being represented. Key retangling institutions and processes are identified and their impacts on EU and national policies assessed.
But the threads and knots of the tangled cosmopolitan mess that is Europe’s past and present also require recognition that extends beyond the glass cases of institutionalised representation – literal and digital – thus the paper also maps the other actors, groups, activists and processes that retangle European narratives and identities.
This paper investigates Europeana (the European digital library, museum and archive), which is identified to construct and promote the idea of “common European cultural heritage”, for its discourse and audience reception. I claim that such categorisation of the digitised collections of Europe’s cultural institutions it diffuses is a form of deliberate curatorship. Through this discursive practice Europeana wants to cultivate its users into acknowledging the link between culture and Europe. At the same time, the research recognises that Europeana has a user-focused structure that enables individualised exploration of its resources – across and beyond any narratives of commonality. The paper looks at this disjuncture by analysing Europeana as a descendant of modern institutions of cultural retention, as well as a medium of both mass and social communication. It investigates the proliferation of its discourse on the basis of an original qualitative Twitter survey of Europeana’s users, which reveals that appreciating Europeana for its European quality in contingent of prior interest in culture and/or knowledge of Europe. It also examines the relative success of its thematic projects pertaining to WWI and the 1989 Revolutions as contingent on the social dimension of collective memory rather than verbalised appreciation of “common European cultural heritage”.
(Wednesday) 12:00 - 13:45
Jagiellońska 26, 03-719 Warszawa