Absence and Difficult Knowledge in Contemporary Art Museums  book cover
1st Edition

Absence and Difficult Knowledge in Contemporary Art Museums

ISBN 9780367787110
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
186 Pages

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Book Description

This book analyzes practices of collecting in European art museums from 1989 to the present, arguing that museums actualize absence both consciously and unconsciously, while misrepresentation is an outcome of the absent perspectives and voices of minority community members which are rarely considered in relation to contemporary art. Difficult knowledge is proposed as a way of dealing with absence productively.

Drawing on social art history, museology, postcolonial theory, and memory studies, Margaret Tali analyzes the collections of four modern and contemporary art museums across Europe: the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, and the Kumu Museum in Tallinn.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Presence of Joseph Beuys and the Struggle Over his Legacy in Berlin

Chapter 2: Absencing and Presencing in Exhibition Narratives

Chapter 3: Collectors’ Space and the Agents of Narration

Chapter 4: The Ludwig Collection in Budapest and the Absent Eastern Europe

Chapter 5: Interrogating the Archival Logic

Chapter 6: Archival Absence

Afterword: Turning Absence into Difficult Knowledge

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Margaret Tali is Lecturer in Visual Art and Culture at Maastricht University.