Museums and historic sites have recently become settings for events, exhibitions, and art installations that throw new light upon the objects they comprise and the “pasts” they reference. They serve as backdrops to contemporary interventions, to which they can assume a secondary role. Yet these spaces also inspire the creation of new, immersive, and historically-minded art pieces, which make these older constructions relevant to contemporary audiences once again. The showbiz and commercial industries, too, have also long been known to manipulate such spaces in order to create alternative realities for the screen or retail venues while fashion has repeatedly turned to the image of history to bolster the appeal of both couture and ready-to-wear garments. Instigating discussions about “history” and conceptions of the past more generally, Space Unlocked, History Unfrozen: Revisiting the Past in Museums and Historic Sites proposes to challenge and change the meanings and relevance such spaces have in the history of art and design and neighboring fields of museum and heritage studies as well as for the general public.
Rooted in new scholarship that expands traditional notions of art installations, period rooms, ethnographic exhibits, and museum interventions more generally, the book will be organized into three parts. Collectively, the chapters are to examine “alternative” knowledge production through different types of interventions into “history.” The chapters included in the first section aim to discuss art installations and other types of interventions inside museums or historic sites. The second section focuses on the role that museums and historic spaces have played in the creation of alternative, immersive artwork, from film and ads to retail design and other historically-minded art installations. The essays in the third and last section bring together the topics covered in the previous two parts to theorize the meanings and implications behind bridging the historical with the contemporary through immersive display practices.
Altogether, the volume will bring together issues as varied as the animation of period rooms, ethnographic exhibits, and historic houses through new media, light, actors, props, and mannequins; the display of contemporary art and design interventions in historic sites that were never intended as exhibition spaces; the appeal of historic spaces to the fields of advertising, fashion and industry; and the different roles that curators, artists, and other agents play in these types of interventions. We invite chapter proposals at least 400 words in length that address these themes and other related ones accompanied by a CV. We also welcome longer proposals and (nearly) completed texts. The volume is under consideration with Bloomsbury Press, which has invited a formal prospectus. Final chapters will be 4,000-5,000 words in length, including bibliography.