Patricia Falguières: Museum of Accessories

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Patricia Falguières is a critic and art historian based in Paris, where she is a professor at EHESS (L’école des hautes études en sciences sociales). Her lecture builds upon her essay in Dedobbeleer’s book Kunststoff, in which she explored his fascination with museum display.

Grips are really out of place in an art exhibition. They indicate a proximity, they suggest that the work can be handled, appropriated, and that is not at all the case. Exhibition visitors are not allowed to touch the artworks, much less manipulate or handle them. We used to find grips affixed to the plinths of statues, or to clay studies of those statues, in artists’ studios, where they made working easier. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, collectors used to put grips on their most prized acquisitions, the ones that were to be seen from every side, that had to be turned and turned till it had saturated the gaze. The great Italian sculptor Canova includes handles in one of his most important marbles, to offer it more easily to the visual concupiscence of collectors, to the hand that feels and grasps the coveted object. From the nineteenth century onwards, however, every object has been stripped of these accessories as soon as it arrives at a museum: the maniability of the work, the handle it offers to desire, must in no way interfere with the pure and ‘disinterested pleasure’that is the domain of art. The museum and the grip are incompatible. The vitrine, along with a whole apparatus of balustrades, ropes, handrails, piedouches, podiums, and pedestals signal the elevation of the work of art to the ‘aesthetic’ age. The museum’s task is to ensure that the right distance is maintained.

- Patricia Falguières, ‘Museum of Accessories’ (2018)

03.10.18, 19:00 (free nocturne)
WIELS Auditorium
In French
Free, on registration