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Critical conversations series continues discussion of CMHR
Posted Thursday, November 3, 2011 11:00 AM
As the “Critical Conversations: The Idea of a Human Rights Museum” series continues, U of M academics are addressing a wide range of issues, from modes of display to issues of representation, and from considerations of ‘affect’ to examples of other museums in other cities.

On October 17, Struan Sinclair, English, film and theatre, and Herbert Enns, Faculty of Architecture, delivered a joint seminar that addressed the representational challenges of human rights in the modern museum context.

Entitled “Spatializing Suffering, Exhibiting Rights: Affect and Atrocity in the Modern ‘Ideas’ Museum,” the presentation focused in its first segment, delivered by Sinclair, on questions and complications of empathy-building though immersive story-worlds and new technologies. He cited examples of gaming and virtual- or augmented-reality softwares that “layer” the user as a telepresence onto real-world scenes or fabulated scenarios. Many of the possibilities raised larger questions about the nature of memory and social memory, ethics and “how immersive we can afford to be.”

Enns brought a further dimension to “how we internalize experience,” with a focus on what “we bring” to our experience, including the habits that condition our experience of the world — and human rights and issues of suffering. With a human rights museum, he suggested a “certain delicacy of operations” was needed, rather than merely capitulating to “fill the void.” Different conceptions and configurations of space, such as “sacred space,” and matters of “time” and “pacing,” he said, as well as internalized effects (and affect) for the individual museum-goer, should also be addressed alongside more typical framed displays.

Ralph Stern, Faculty of Architecture, and Stephan Jaeger, German and Slavic studies, presented on October 24, raising other issues of representation implicated in building a Museum for Human Rights.

Stern’s “Architecture, Destruction and Visual Culture” included a discussion of the history of Berlin, focusing on the area around the Holocaust Memorial site. The destruction of large numbers of buildings in Berlin during and after WWII, he suggested, created many gaps in the urban fabric. A site such as the Holocaust Memorial may evoke overlapping histories and memories of the city, but “what do you do for ‘cultures’ that don’t materialize themselves through the act of building?” he asked.

Presenting on “Narrative and Aesthetic Experience: Why should and how can a Museum for Human Rights represent the past?” Jaeger discussed the function of narrative in a “museum of ideas” — and historical and cultural narratives, in particular. The seminar focused on the representation of war and human rights violation and its subsequent remembrance and representation, with a focus on World War II and the Holocaust.

“Critical Conversations: The Idea of a Human Rights Museum” seminar series continues on Mondays from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

>>See more at the Centre For Human Rights Initiative at the link below.
For more information, contact:
Mariianne Mays Wiebe
Editor, The Bulletin
Marketing Communications Office
Phone: (204) 474-8111
Fax: (204) 474-7631
Related Links (Internal):
  •Centre For Human Rights Initiative