Monday, October 09, 2017

Fellowship Opportunity: Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program

The Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program is now accepting applications. Since 2000, the AJC Fellows Program has provided a unique educational opportunity for graduate students and seniors to learn about the Holocaust in situ in the context of Poland’s history and Jewish heritage. Through travel in Poland for three weeks, during which time Fellows visit Krakow, Warsaw, Lódź, Treblinka, and Oświęcim (Auschwitz), Fellows gain not only knowledge of the Holocaust sites they visit, but also an understanding of the legacy of the Holocaust in Poland, its effects on collective memory, and complexities surrounding such categories as victim, bystander, and perpetrator. All program costs, except travel to the program’s start in New York, are covered.
Faculty participation is available through the Faculty Fellows Program.  
The Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program will run from June 24 - July 16, 2018. Theapplication is due on January 14, 2018. Candidates of all religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Call for Papers: Context and Meaning XVII: Complete Imperfection, The Graduate Visual Culture Association of Queen’s University

We are pleased to announce the 17th annual Context & Meaning Graduate Student Conference, taking place at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, from Friday, February 2nd to Saturday, February 3rd 2018. We are seeking papers that address this year’s theme, “Complete Imperfection.” The conference will provide an inclusive and broadly defined forum that facilitates academic discussion while encompassing an abundant range of topics. In choosing this intentionally multi-disciplinary theme we would like to encourage discussion about imperfection, impermanence, and ephemerality within Visual Culture Studies.

Some potential themes and ideas to consider may include:
- What does ‘finished’ mean? When is a work finished? When does it fail?
- Collaborative practices, ‘hidden’ voices in scholarly practices 
- Absence/Presence 
- Impermanent, ever-changing, in-flux art
- Art conservation versus restoration
- Imperfect society, failed Utopias
- The unattainability of ideal human beauty
- Nature as an artistic model, ideals of femininity and masculinity
- Technology in art and its limitations 
- Critiquing the canon or hegemonic narratives, alternatives to Euro-American ideals of perfection, debunking the artistic genius

We encourage applications from graduate students working in Art History, Art Conservation, Studio Art, Digital Humanities, Cultural Studies, Museum Studies, Religious Studies, Gender Studies and students from various Humanities fields whose research responds to this year’s theme. This conference is open to both historical and contemporary topics. Submissions are welcome from current graduate students, as well as those who have completed their graduate studies within the last year. We seek to assemble a diverse group of scholars in order to foster interdisciplinary discussions. Presenters will be allotted 20 minutes to deliver their papers, followed by a 10-minute discussion period. A poster session on the conference theme, featuring complete and incomplete research, will also be held during the conference; please see the attached sheet if you would like more information on how to create an academic poster. 

If you are interested in speaking, performing or submitting a poster at Context and Meaning XVII, please email an abstract of no more than 300 words with the title of your paper, along with a separate document that includes a 250-word bio, to Please ensure that your name and the title of your paper are included in your letter of introduction and on your abstract. The deadline to submit an abstract will be: Wednesday, November 8th 2017. Thank you to all who apply! 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Position Announcement: Director, Director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

The UNM College of Arts and Sciences invites applications for a faculty position in the Department of Anthropology at the level of Full Professor with tenure, Associate Professor with tenure, or probationary tenure track Associate Professor (as applicable) to begin August, 2018. The successful candidate will serve as the Director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology on a 5-year term basis (may be renewed), and will also teach in the Department. We seek a scholar who will complement a three-subfield department (including archaeology, ethnology and evolutionary anthropology) with national recognition for scholarship and graduate training.

Applications received by November 15, 2017 will receive best consideration. The position will remain open until filled. A complete application consists of: 1) letter of intent addressing the applicant's qualifications for the position, 2) a description of the applicant's current research activities, teaching interests and experience, 3) five-year research plan, 4) current CV, 5) a vision statement for the Maxwell museum, and 6) full contact information of three professional references. All application materials must be submitted via Requisition # 2607. The University of New Mexico is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women and Minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Minimum Qualifications:
PhD in Anthropology or related field has been awarded by time of appointment.
Two years of prior museum employment by start of appointment.
Evidence of an active research program as demonstrated by peer-reviewed publications and grant funding.
Experience in supervising employees and managing budgets.

Preferred Qualifications:
Evidence of extensive experience in museum administration, including in a university setting.
Evidence of successful institutional fundraising and development.
Evidence of curatorial and/or collections management.
Evidence of public outreach to diverse communities.
Evidence of leadership and ability to foster multidisciplinary research to complement existing strengths in UNM Anthropology.
Demonstrated teaching experience at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels.
Evidence of an established extramurally funded research program in any of the subfields of anthropology.
Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yayoi Kusama, Queen of Polka Dots, Opens Museum in Tokyo

Yayoi Kusama, The New York Times
September 26, 2017

"Even the restrooms are covered in polka dots.

Yayoi Kusama, the celebrated Japanese artist whose compulsively repetitive images have drawn huge crowds and critical acclaim around the world, is opening a museum in Tokyo that could only be hers. The unmistakable touches include large red polka dots and mirrors in the elevators and a bulbous mosaic pumpkin sculpture on the top floor.

“Until now, I was the one who went overseas,” Ms. Kusama, 88, said, sitting in a wheelchair in front of her painting “I Who Have Arrived In The Universe” at a media preview of the Yayoi Kusama Museum on Tuesday. “But I now recognize that there are more people coming to Japan to come to see my work,” she said, reading from a statement in a binder covered in — what else? — red polka dots. “And that is why I decided to establish a place for them to see my work.”

Ms. Kusama, who lived and worked in New York for 16 years at the beginning of her career and was friends with the artists Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Joseph Cornell, with whom she had a relationship, has had retrospectives at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Tate Museum in London."

More here

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Call for Papers: Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology

Art, Materiality and Representation conference organised by the RAI and the British Museum’s Department for Africa, Oceania and theAmericas. Clore Centre of the British Museum and Department of Anthropology atSOAS, London, 1-3 June 2018

Panel 064: Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology
Convenors: Jaanika Vider (University of Oxford) and Katherine Clough (V&A Museum/Newcastle University)

The panel seeks to problematise, locate and define curators and curated spaces in contemporary culture and ethnographic museums in the light of an expanding notion of curation. Special attention will be paid to means in which it can harness the potential of material objects to perform and affect.

We particularly welcome
- papers from museum professionals involved in curating (broadly defined)/ engaging in innovative interventions that challenge preconceived ideas of what museums are
- papers that explore the possibilities emerging from digital technologies
- papers that consider questions of curation from public engagement viewpoint
- papers that engage with the concept of curatorial space

Panel abstract: Humanity’s capacity for producing an excess of material culture continues at fast pace, while the 'information age' society is also faced with managing unprecedented and accelerating data excess. The overwhelming task of selecting from this abundance has led Michael Bhaskar to suggest that 'we're all curators now' (2016: 3). The term 'curation' has become prolific in wider society, applied to an increasing range of cultural forms from festival line-ups to digital curated content. This poses the question of the meaning and role of the professional museum curator, particularly in ethnographic museums that have historically sought to collect everything from the everyday.

Collaborative curation in ethnographic museums and the conception of these spaces as 'contact zones' have increasingly rendered curators of these museums facilitators in cross-cultural conversation. Similarly, Hans Ulrich Obrist has positioned his own role in the Art World as a catalyst that 'brings different cultural spheres into contact' (2014: 24) emphasising relational values over reliance on individual curatorial expertise and subject specialism. 

We take the expanding notion of curation as a central discussion point to explore how broader conceptualisation of the curator and curated spaces can enhance understanding of our collections. In particular, we are interested in how curation can harness the potency and expectancy of photographs, objects and sound to make them 'talk' (Daston 2007: 221) with special reference to emerging digital technologies. We seek to explore how we may redefine the curator, professional practice and curated spaces to facilitate the making of anthropological knowledge and experiences.

To submit a proposal, please send a title, a short summary of up to 300 characters and an abstract of 250 words via the online form by 8 January 2018 at:
Further conference details can be found at Enquiries are welcome to emails below.
Jaanika Vider (
Katherine Clough (

Saturday, September 30, 2017

National Museum Of African American History And Culture Celebrates 1 Year

Windsor Johnston, NPR
September 24, 2017
"It's been one year since bells tolled along the East Coast, welcoming the newest Smithsonian to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, the museum has attracted more than 3 million people of all races, colors and creed from across the nation and around the world — averaging about 8,000 visitors daily.

"This has become more than a museum. This has become a pilgrimage site," said Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in an interview with The Associated Press.

The one-year celebration is highlighting the various aspects of African-American history through music, dance and storytelling. Exhibits at the museum range from the glass-topped casket used to bury lynching victim Emmett Till to a fedora owned by late pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Many of the artifacts come from people's homes and personal collections — like freed slave Joseph Trammel's tin wallet, handmade to protect his freedom papers.

"Because you have these collections, it allows people to open up and to share stories to find memories," Bunch told the AP. "I've heard many times people say, 'I forgot, but once I saw a segregated door or once I saw that washboard it brought back those memories.' "

More here. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Multimillion-dollar project to update, restore and conserve historic hall at American Natural History Museum

Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail
September 25, 2017

"The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians is the American Museum of Natural History's oldest hall. A centrepiece on the New York museum's main floor, it is a treasure trove of totem poles, masks, rattles and other objects – most of them from Indigenous peoples in Canada.

On Monday, the museum announced a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project to update, restore and conserve the hall and enrich the interpretation of its exhibits. Representatives from the Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Tlingit communities were to be in New York for the announcement.

"We've been talking about this possibility ever since I arrived at the museum in 2001," said Peter Whiteley, the museum's curator of North American ethnology, in the division of anthropology, in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "This hall, while it did have some cosmetic changes in the late fifties and early sixties, is pretty much the same as it was in 1910, so we are absolutely thrilled that this is happening."

The renovation will see a number of items currently on display come down, with other pieces brought in from the museum's collection – all done in consultation with First Nations.

The hall, which opened in 1899, is a museum highlight and a top tourist destination, but it was also a game changer in the field of anthropology, with its revolutionary approach by anthropologist Franz Boas. This is where Boas made his argument for cultural relativism in museum interpretations of Indigenous cultures – with objects from each nation viewed within the context of that nation's particular culture. Boas grouped the works by nation rather than chronology or function. So you don't find a hodgepodge of spoons or masks from different communities grouped in one case. Crucially, this was a challenge to the prevailing approach of representing societies in evolutionary terms – on a trajectory from "primitive" to "advanced."

"It's an absolutely iconic hall in the history of anthropology – in the history of American intellectual life," Whiteley said."

More here

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

First African Contemporary Art Museum Opens in Capetown Amidst Controversy

Fredrick Ngugi, Face to Face Africa
September 24, 2017

"For a long time, contemporary African artists have struggled to find the right platform to showcase their work. They have always relied on foreign museums to exhibit their talent and make revenue.

But this is set to change with the launch of the first African contemporary art museum in Cape Town, South Africa. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art was officially opened Friday, September 22, at an event that was presided over by the renowned South African Archbishop Desmund Tutu.

The museum has been characterized as Africa’s Tate Modern(an institution that houses England’s national collection of British art, and international contemporary art). Zeitz is the creation of the renowned British architect Thomas Heatherwick.

The arts center occupies a nine-storey building that previously served as a grain silo in Cape Town. Heatherwick, with the help of three local architecture firms, has transformed the building’s original cylinders into huge tubular shapes that stand in the middle of the BMW Atrium, the center’s main hall.

Zeitz Museum features more than 100 galleries, a sculpture garden on the roof, and six research centers dedicated to Art Education, Performative Practice, Curatorial Excellence, Photography, Costume Institute, and the Moving Image."

More here