Cornell University

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CANCELLED Dayak by Design

Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 10:00am to 5:00pm

Johnson Museum of Art, Wing gallery, Floor 2L
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

The Johnson Museum is currently closed as part of the Cornell University Ithaca campus. General updates will be posted on our website.

In conjunction with the semester-long course “Constructing New Narratives: Curatorial Practice Today” (ARTH 6010), the Museum’s wing gallery becomes the site for a curatorial intervention by students. The theme for the course focuses on the material culture and photographic documentation of the Dayak peoples, and the wealth of possible stories that span almost four decades of dramatic social change for these communities living in what is present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. The course will encourage students to examine the politics of display, shifting attitudes toward performance and rituals of spectatorship, as well as issues of heritage tourism, small-scale artisanal activity, collecting, provenance, repatriation, and community engagement.

Students will learn about Dayak culture, research works in the Museum’s permanent collection, and explore the Cornell Library’s collection of images by German photographer Hedda Morrison (1908–1991). The gallery will become a kind of laboratory for the students’ evolving curatorial project, which will naturally cross the disciplines of art history and anthropology as they consider how the Museum’s and Library’s collections can be interwoven to develop the exhibition narrative and installation. Over the duration of the project, visitors will see how the students’ intervention progresses into its final form.


“Constructing New Narratives: Curatorial Practice Today” is team-taught by Kaja McGowan, associate professor in Cornell’s Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies; Ellen Avril, chief curator and curator of Asian art at the Johnson; and Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson. Funding for the exhibition has been provided in part by a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris.

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