The Labyrinthine Exhibition

A New Genre

Reesa Greenberg

This essay examines the labyrinthine exhibition and its recent emergence as an identifiable exhibition genre. Consideration of what a labyrinthine exhibition actually is, understanding its origins, mapping even a partial corpus, and plotting a provisional history allow us to engage with questions about genre formation and reformulation more generally. To that end, what follows is a discussion of terminology, canon formation, and knowledge production with regard to the labyrinthine exhibition and how new exhibition genres are constituted.

Nomenclature and Genre Formation

Since the consolidation and expansion of the fields of both exhibition and curatorial studies two decades ago, our knowledge of exhibitions and exhibition histories has greatly increased. There is a growing realization, however, that although we know more about specific exhibitions, our thinking about exhibition genres is quite undeveloped. What was standard museum nomenclature for exhibitions no longer is sufficient to describe or analyze the range of past and current exhibition practices.

We used to categorize exhibitions as solo or group; permanent or temporary; collection or loan; single venue or traveling. Other categories included medium, period, artistic movement, subject matter, or geographic origin. These typologies still exist but are inadequate when attempting to identify, let alone understand, offshoots and exceptions to past exhibition practices, or new ones. The creation of different exhibition genres offers solutions to crises of identification for newer exhibition forms and prompts reclassification of past exhibitions previously considered under different categories.

How is a new typology recognized as such? Usually, identification occurs through the need for and creation of a name. One example is the sudden and unprecedented number of exhibitions that occurred between 2005 and 2010 in Europe, North America, and Israel about art restitution in relation to looting and World War II. The phenomenon prompted the formation of a distinct typology so the exhibitions could be compared among themselves and to pre-2005 examples, some of which had previously been categorized as variants of postwar triumphs. Coming up with the term “restitution exhibitions” was easy.[1]

Such simplicity, clarity, or agreement is not always the case when naming a new genre. The paradigmatic example is the many names for exhibitions that replicate, in whatever form and to whatever degree, past exhibitions. This widely recognized, new twenty-first-century genre has been referred to as reconstruction, remake, replay, or restaging, but also as sequel or recap by Jens Hoffman,[2] reprise and riposte by Elitza Dulguerova,[3] re-enacting and re-exhibiting by Miriam La Rosa,[4] readymade by Germano Celant,[5] and re-production by Pierre Bal-Blanc.[6] I have contributed remembering exhibition and riff to this list. At this stage the lack of consensus on what to call the genre replicates the creative variance in its manifestations, the intellectual richness of discussion, and the productiveness of ongoing renaming. For future scholars, however, and notwithstanding tagging, the number of names for these exhibitions will make a reconstruction of the genre in its early stages most difficult.

Which brings us to the labyrinthine exhibition, another recently formulated genre consisting of historic and contemporary exhibitions. Like the two previous examples, the name of the genre is generic and descriptive of the exhibitions it aggregates. However, because the name of the genre is so deeply associated with only some of its earliest manifestations, others are often omitted. To date, the historical baggage of the genre’s name coupled with an absence of theorization about the genre has resulted in a limited understanding of its chronological and morphological range.

Traditionally, historical labyrinthine exhibitions have been categorized into three groups. The first and earliest comprise Surrealist exhibitions from the 1930s to the 1960s, the second consists of Situationist International (SI) and nouveau réaliste exhibitions in Europe in the 1950s and ’60s, and the third, lesser known, is a 1963 exhibition organized for the Third Paris Biennale by the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV). Labyrinthine, however, was not the key word used to describe Surrealist exhibitions qua exhibitions but rather a specific, albeit important element—the labyrinthine passageways constructed by Marcel Duchamp and then utilized by other Surrealist artists.[7] By contrast, the two exhibitions associated with the Stedelijk Museum use “labyrinth” or a variant in their titles: the canceled 1959 Situationist International project, Die Welt als Labyrinth, and the 1962 Dylaby—an amalgam of the words “dynamic” and “labyrinth” coined by SI artist Constant (Nieuwenhuys) and subsequently, if controversially, adopted and popularized by Jean Tinguely, the primary artist-organizer of the exhibition. The title of the third exhibition, Labyrinth, speaks for itself.

Fig. 1. Dylaby, Plan, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1962.

There is a tendency to conflate labyrinthine with labyrinth, but they are not necessarily the same phenomenon. A labyrinth can be the totality of a complex physical space as well as a complicated route through a space, complex or not. A labyrinth can exist readymade (either found in nature, as in a grotto, or as built space, such as a city). The unrealized two-part exhibition proposed by the Situationist International artists posited multiple possibilities for labyrinths with a purpose-built labyrinth inside and around the Stedelijk, and dérives (“driftings”) through the found labyrinth of Amsterdam’s streets and canals. Why is the adjective proposed for the genre rather than a term that incorporates the noun? The online Oxford English Dictionary provides two definitions for labyrinthine.[8] In the first, labyrinthine is used in relation to an actual network such as streets that are “irregular, twisting, maze-like, winding, serpentine, meandering, wandering, rambling, mazy, sinuous, or zigzag.” Labyrinthine also describes amorphous systems, as in “labyrinthine plots and counterplots” that are “complicated, intricate, complex, involved, tortuous, convoluted, tangled, elaborate, knotty.”

Fig. 2. Dylaby, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1962. Photo: Ed van der Elsken. Credit: Nederlands Fotomuseum / © Ed van der Elsken.

In other words, labyrinthine operates as a descriptor of material, physical entities as well as abstract, immaterial, emotional experiences. As such, labyrinthine is more adaptable to another of the distinguishing traits of these exhibitions: disorientation. Importantly, the choice of labyrinthine shifts the emphasis from maker to user and newer forms of engagement with art, features proposed by the primary title of the Stedelijk symposium, Lose Yourselfheld in conjunction with the 2016 retrospective exhibition, Jean Tinguely – Machine Spectacle, featuring the artist’s labyrinthine exhibitions and artworks.

The word labyrinthine also signals another characteristic trait: these exhibitions are constructed in opposition to what were (and are) normative museum and market display models privileging visual, spatial, and intellectual clarity in order to elicit the quieter, dispassionate emotions. Labyrinthine is not a term usually associated with best curatorial practices. Quite the contrary. Using labyrinthine to define the genre highlights the potentially oppositional, disruptive aspects of the exhibitions that could comprise its corpus and releases the genre from being identified with only those exhibitions that use the term labyrinth or its form.

Historiography and Genre Formation

If asked what exhibitions qualify as labyrinthine, art and exhibition historians would probably agree to a short list or canon consisting of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, 1938; First Papers of Surrealism, 1942; Die Welt als Labyrinth, 1959; Dylaby, 1962; and HON – en katedral (SHE – A Cathedral), 1966. All are conceived by artists and, to a greater or lesser degree, interconnected, paired by artistic movement, artist-curators, or location. They have been described as multisensorial, politically motivated challenges to standard ways of exhibiting and experiencing art, with the intent of disorienting the viewer’s physical, intellectual, and emotional expectations, sometimes playfully, sometimes oneirically, sometimes aggressively.

To date, equally important exhibitions have yet to be integrated into the labyrinthine exhibition canon. For example, an Exhibit, 1957, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, co-curated by Richard Hamilton, Victor Pasmore, and Lawrence Alloway, despite recent reconstructions and a monograph, remains an outlier.[9] The same holds for the later Les Immatériaux, curated by philosopher Jean François Lyotard in 1985 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, generally accepted as the first landmark labyrinthine exhibition in an art museum not conceived by artists. Rather than the carnivalesque or funhouse canonical examples cited above, an Exhibit and Les Immatériaux are representative of the abstract and scientific versions of the genre. Their ideological and formal dissimilarities with the accepted Surrealist and SI examples complicate the construction of both the genre and the canon. Their absence can be attributed to the historiography of the genre and its focus on Surrealist versions.

Information about early labyrinthine exhibitions can be found in accounts from participants or observers, or histories of artists and artistic movements. Marcel Jean’s History of Surrealist Painting (published in French in 1959, in English in 1960, and in German in 1961), in particular, is a key resource for Surrealist exhibitions. As his title indicates, however, Jean, an artist who exhibited with the Surrealists, situates exhibitions within discussions of artistic practices rather than construct a morphology of an exhibition genre. Jean also initiated the practice of illustrating exhibitions with a large number of photographs, which, by definition, record only select features and are far from ideal for portraying nonvisual components of exhibitions.[10]

Fig. 3. Marcel Duchamp, final room of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, Galérie Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1938. Photographer unknown.

In 1976, at the height of installation art, there is a decided shift in approach. Two publications present broad historical panoramas of changes in artists’ modes of exhibiting art, thereby consolidating the concept of integrating production and presentation as essential to certain artistic practices. Artist-author Brian O’Doherty’s influential three-part article, published in Art Forum (revised and expanded as a book in 1986, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space),[11] but also Germano Celant’s important catalogue for the group exhibition curated by him at that year’s Venice Biennale, Ambiente/Arte: dal Futurismo alla Body Art (Environment/Art: From Futurism to Body Art),[12] convincingly argue for consideration of artist-curated displays and installation artworks as exhibitions, focusing on their spatial components, spectator experience, and attempts to subvert the commodity status of art.

Both authors include examples of what we now identify as labyrinthine exhibitions within essays portraying many alternatives to traditional exhibition spaces. Celant’s catalogue also included a visual essay of 387 illustrations, a feature constituting the first extensive, published visual archive of twentieth-century exhibition installations. Although Celant illustrates Dylaby and HON – en katedral, both curated by Tinguely, the exhibitions do not figure in the text. In O’Doherty’s book, Dylaby and HON do not appear in any form. Both authors focus on Duchamp’s innovations, but O’Doherty does not discuss the multisensorial aspects or the experiential elements of Duchamp’s exhibitions beyond his references to audience hostility. So, although O’Doherty and Celant include some labyrinthine exhibitions, they are not identified or grouped as such.

In the 1990s, when the first books on exhibition history per se were published, the literature changed again. Single or multi-authored case studies of individual exhibitions arranged chronologically employed a descriptive and documentary methodology designed to convey as much verbal and visual information about the exhibitions as possible. There was little interest in going beyond a masterpiece mentality to study exhibitions as interrelated phenomena, except perhaps obliquely. Many of the surveys include extensive coverage of the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme and usually, to a greater or lesser degree, Duchamp’s 1942 First Papers of Surrealism.[13] Dylaby is included in Die Kunst der Ausstellung (The Art of Exhibition)[14] and opens Bruce Altshuler’s Biennials and BeyondExhibitions that Made Art History.[15] HON and an Exhibit and do not figure in either.

After 2010 there is a shift back to a methodology that uses case studies as support for larger arguments. There is also a focus on lesser-known or more recent exhibitions. The authors of Narrative Spaces: On the Art of Exhibiting signal an important change by using a photograph of Tinguely’s famous upended gallery from Dylaby, including its visitors, on the cover of their book.[16] Duchampian dominance is usurped. By grouping exhibitions thematically, even Jens Hoffman’s important 2014 case study survey of fifty exhibitions, beginning in the 1980s, suggests that there is more to exhibition history than “masterpieces.”[17]

Expanding a Genre

To date, there have been gestures towards understanding the labyrinthine exhibition beyond its current, limited canonical coordinates. Altshuler’s publication in English of the January 1960 essay Die Welt als Labyrinth as the first of six text documents in the chapter on Dylaby that begins the case studies in Biennials and Beyond is an example of how a minor shift in historiography can reorient discussion. Altshuler does not abandon the case study of a canonical example; using juxtaposition, he expands it to focus attention on related phenomena.

Clustering is another potentially useful methodology. The close chronological and geographical proximity of the 1959 Die Welt als Labyrinth to Dylaby (1962), but also to the VIIIe Exposition inteRnatiOnal du Surréalisme (ÉROS), at the Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris (1960), GRAV’s Labyrinth produced for the 1963 Paris Biennale, and HON – en katedral at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1966) argues strongly for a future study of constellations and networks rather than isolated examples. Looking at labyrinthine exhibitions in the 1950s and ’60s with a wider lens would prompt study of both synchronic and diachronic lineages of curatorial practice, consideration of the contributions made by women artist-curators such as Mimi Parent and Niki de Saint Phalle to labyrinthine exhibition practices, and more geographically peripheral examples, such as those associated with Per Olof Ultvedt, the Finnish co-curator of HON.

Fig. 4. Kurt Schwitters, Merzbau, 1922-1937. Photo: Wilhelm Redemann, 1933. © Estate of Kurt Schwitters / SOCAN (2018).

Similarly, studying constellations of labyrinthine exhibitions promotes interrogation of features and sources considered key to the genre. For example, more often than not, the labyrinthine exhibition comprises an exhibition space that is dark, even though one of the paradigmatic examples, the 1942 First Papers of Surrealism, curated and staged by Duchamp, does not utilize literal darkness as a constituent aesthetic property. Much later, architect Daniel Libeskind’s labyrinthine galleries at the Jewish Museum, Copenhagen (2007), and his 2006 addition to the Denver Museum are designed as light-filled spaces. Libeskind’s qualifications for inclusion in a typology of labyrinthine exhibitions lie elsewhere. That elsewhere is a lineage for labyrinthine exhibitions beginning with Kurt Schwitters’s fractured wall, labyrinthine Merzbau (1923–1937), recognized in histories of installation art but discounted in exhibition histories. The Schwitters-Merzbau lineage posits the labyrinthine exhibition as both temporary and permanent form, dark and light-filled spaces. Acknowledging Schwitters as perhaps the first curator of a labyrinthine exhibition also expands the definition of the genre from a group exhibition to solo exhibitions of labyrinthine artworks, such as Yayoi Kusama’s contemplative Mirror/Infinity rooms and Thomas Hirschhorn’s convoluted, congested, enormous tableaux.

Fig. 5. Daniel Libeskind, Danish Jewish Museum, Copenhagen, 2007. Photo: Bitter + Bredt.

Another possible area of investigation that could shift the discussion is the study of labyrinthine exhibitions outside the art world. For example, in the late 1960s a number of science and technology museums, particularly the Deutsches Museum in Munich and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, placed great emphasis on children’s education and participatory learning.[18] NEMO in Amsterdam continues that tradition, including the labyrinthine layout typical of science museums that follows exploratory and experiential rather than didactic learning methodologies.

Additional research pathways and methodologies might broaden our understanding of the genre. Books, catalogue essays, and photographs are helpful but not dynamic nor, as we know, do they capture many important aspects of labyrinthine exhibitions, especially their moving parts, sounds, parcours, and visitor/participant roles and responses. A corollary and somewhat speculative question underlying this essay is whether twenty-first-century historiographical tools would yield a more diverse corpus and more varied interpretations of labyrinthine exhibitions. In other words, what might more labyrinthine historiographical models tell us about the exhibition as labyrinth?

I am referring specifically to digital practices such as the construction of tagged, ideally interactive, collaborative, online network maps and repositories of primary and secondary source materials. Open access, online platforms foster sharing resources more easily and widely while making it quicker to identify lacunae. Imagine e-book versions, even at a price, of Altshuler’s publications. Such weighty tomes, while extraordinarily valuable, do not correspond to today’s nimble research patterns. The Centre Pompidou’s wiki effort to create a digitized, crowd-sourced, open access, multimedia catalogue raisonée of all its exhibitions since 1977 is encouraging, but an incomplete outlier.[19]

More typical are non-aggregated online fragments related to exhibitions (e.g., photographs posted to various platforms, video reportage or interviews generated by the organizing institution or news media, PDFs of student or professional papers, YouTube channels with conference proceedings). Unless tagged fully and accurately, these are easily lost in the online labyrinth. If nonprint sources that stretch current conceptions are not more readily available, our mental constructs of any exhibition will remain defined by what is on the page. When formulating a genre, I also wonder about the benefits of big data visualizations à la Lev Manovich that could confirm hypotheses or yield unexpected findings about, for example, whether the labyrinthine exhibition is primarily a European model—or even an art model—and where, when, and exactly how it morphs.

Digitized, online, open access material is one way of evoking and disseminating the experiential features of labyrinthine exhibitions. As mentioned earlier, the practice of reconstructing exhibitions in exhibition form, entirely or in part, is another.[20] Remakes are particularly well suited for recreating the multisensorial qualities and viewer participation components of labyrinthine exhibitions.

One of the few examples of the genre for which there are a number of material reconstructions and an online record of them is the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme. Under the section “Impact on Art History,” Wikipedia lists three versions dating between 1995 and 2012. Each entry is accompanied by a short description, but no photographs.[21] Other reconstructions could be added, particularly the version in Le Surréalisme et L’Objet, October 30, 2013–March 3, 2014, at the Centre Georges Pompidou, where a number of Surrealist exhibitions are remembered in a meta-labyrinthine exhibition. While the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme is included, it is but one of many incorporated.

  • Fig. 6. Le Surréalisme et L’Objet, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, October 30, 2013–March 3, 2014. Photo: ROUGHDREAMS.FR.

  • Fig. 7. Installation view, Le Surréalisme et L’Objet, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, October 30, 2013–March 3, 2014. Photo: ROUGHDREAMS.FR.

An underlying conceptual apparatus of curator Didier Ottinger’s exhibition was to display a number of Surrealist objects as they were presented in Surrealist exhibitions, so they would be seen in the context for which many were created and first encountered by the public.[22] In Ottinger’s exhibition six reprises of historical Surrealist exhibitions dating 1933–1956, not all labyrinthine, were arranged more or less chronologically. They were introduced with a riff on Duchamp’s interior street from the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, here lined with contemporary art, which acted as the Pompidou’s exhibition spineThe historical Surrealist exhibitions were loosely replicated with objects displayed close to enlarged, variously sized period photographs in which they figured and period films. The photos, some quite granular because of enlargement and backlighting, accompanied the flickering films, performed as reconstructions of specific exhibitions as well as contributions to an infrastructure designed to envelope viewers in the spatial strangeness of Surrealist exhibitions generally. Ottinger and scenographic architect Pascal Rodriguez used aesthetic features associated with Surrealist exhibitions, such as darkness, crowded and awkwardly navigated display spaces, and unexplained sound, to which the curator and exhibition designer added their own features, notably the doubling of images seen on or through the glass of display cases, which confused the chronological sequencing and the senses of the viewers.

Curator and designer create their own labyrinthine exhibition environment, derived from but into which the historical Surrealist exhibition reconstructions and artifacts were inserted. The result was an immersive, mise en abyme exhibition designed as a reminder of the dark, irrational drives at the root of Surrealist production, while also conveying to contemporary viewers, corporeally and cognitively, the destabilizing experiential aspects of historical Surrealist exhibitions. In many ways, with its similarities to the, dark, multiscreen, multi-focused, highly staged, sprawling, spatially confusing, sound-filled installations of Laure Prouvost and Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, Surrealism and the Object was as much a contemporary version of labyrinthine exhibitions as a remembering exhibition.

There are options other than immersion in a newly created labyrinth for communicating the experiential features of historical labyrinthine exhibitions. The Stedelijk has employed the photographs, films, and film stills of Ed van der Elsken, particularly those documenting viewer reactions to exhibitions designed to engage them. Recollections 1 (2011), curated by Margriet Schavemaker, remembered two landmark exhibitions at the Stedelijk in the early 1960s, Bewogen Beweging (1961) and Dylaby (1962), in the rooms in which they were originally seen, using related documents and artworks in the museum’s collection. Films made by Van der Elsken of the two exhibitions were installed on opposite walls of a single gallery at the exhibition’s conceptual middle, situated between documenting the preparation and presentation of the exhibitions and the sections devoted to the entry of works from the exhibitions into the collection, memorabilia, and research. The sound from the films permeated both components, acting as an immaterial document of audience response for the first half of the remembering exhibition and an echo of the remembered exhibitions in the after-the-exhibition galleries. The darkness of the film room visually signaled that these documents were different and demanded a different form of visitor attention. While Van der Elsken’s films and photographs conveyed the atypical visitor reactions evoked in the remembered exhibitions, they were placed in white cube and black box rather than labyrinthine spaces. As such, visitors to what I have called an “archival remembering exhibition” maintained a distanced physical and emotional stance with the material on display.

Fig. 8. Installation view with screen shot from Ed van der Elsken’s film, Dylaby (1962) and period documentation of Dylaby, Jean Tinguely – Machine Spectacle, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, October 1, 2016–March 5, 2017. Photo: Reesa Greenberg.

In Schavemaker’s captivating 2016 Jean Tinguely – Machine Spectacle, presented at the Stedelijk, Van der Elsken’s photographs and films of Bewogen Beweging (1961) and Dylaby (1962) are again used to document the look, feel, and responses to these exhibitions. This time, however, the films are part of a solo artist retrospective that includes Tinguely’s curatorial and artistic collaborations. Again, the films are located about halfway through the exhibition, positioned after and separated by galleries of Tinguely’s intermittently moving and very noisy sculptures. Each historic exhibition is given a small room of its own, again with documents in vitrines and enlarged photographs on the walls. The films, projected onto the back wall and easily seen, animate the adjacent paper archival documents. Van der Elsken’s film on Dylaby, played with its soundtrack, provides information about the labyrinthine route and interactive rooms. Most importantly, the film was shot from the perspective of visitors and focuses on their reactions. Punctuated by screams and laughter, the film captures the astonished, questioning, humorous, and critical responses to Tinguely’s dynamic labyrinth.

Two galleries on, we encounter a room devoted to remembering a second labyrinthine exhibition curated by Tinguely, HON – en katedral. Again, film is central to conveying that exhibition’s dynamics, especially the route visitors take, the contrasting scenarios they encounter along it, and the nature of Tinguely’s collaboration with his life partner, Niki de Saint Phalle, who provided the monumental, brightly painted plaster Nana enveloping the dark, labyrinthine spaces within. In fact there are two films, placed back to back on a single, medium-size monitor in the center of the room. One forty-six-minute film, The Making of Hon, directed by Magnus Wiborn and Lütfi Özkok, is a black-and-white documentation of the installation’s creation, its interior exhibition spaces, and its destruction. The other, an eight-minute fragment from François de Menil’s Hon (1966), is a color film made by the Moderna Museet that includes segments on before and after, but privileges the finished work and visitors.

Fig. 9. Installation view showing period photograph of HON – en katedral (1966) in the background with a screenshot of François de Menil’s Hon, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1966), Jean Tinguely – Machine Spectacle, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, October 1, 2016–March 5, 2017. Photo: Reesa Greenberg.

The relatively small size of the monitor is engulfed by the scenography of the room, with its face-to-face, enlarged photographs covering entire walls. Visitors following the remembering exhibition’s parcours encountered the colored photo of Saint Phalle’s sculpture, shot to reveal the dark entranceway through the Nana’s legs, much as visitors to the remembered exhibition did. The size of the photograph allowed today’s viewers to sense the labyrinth’s monumental scale as well as experience the shock, surprise, and delight of the image. Other elements in the remembering room evoke other aspects of HON and its era, such as an enlarged, black-and-white documentary photograph of Tinguely working on the exterior of HON (placed across from a photograph of the finished labyrinth), a carpet with a design of concentric circles in olive green and mauve (Saint Phalle’s colors), and low poufs. The carpet and poufs also turn the gallery into a 1960s lounge, where viewers can sit or recline while watching the films, peruse copies of the catalogue, or simply hang out. Their voices are much louder than the almost inaudible soundtrack from the film made by the Moderna Museet. If visitors lose themselves in this reprise, it is in the audio guide included in the price of admission or in chitchat.[23]

Miriam La Rosa posits that the importance of “exhibitions of/within exhibitions” lies more in their performative aspects than as lieux de mémoire. La Rosa invokes Giles Deleuze’s concept of the simulacrum, citing repetition and difference as important tools for validating the relevance of reenacting reconstructions for contemporary audiences and participants.[24] With different emphases, both Le Surréalisme et L’Objet and the Stedelijk’s Jean Tinguely retrospective achieve that delicate balance between documentation and spectacle when remembering past labyrinthine exhibitions. In doing so, these remembering exhibitions contribute to an experiential knowledge of earlier examples of a new genre while simultaneously providing points of comparison with its more recent manifestations. One might argue that these remembering exhibitions contribute to the need to identify labyrinthine exhibitions as a genre.

Reesa Greenberg is a Canadian art historian who writes about exhibition histories, museums, and the Internet. Her work focuses on national, gendered, and ethnic identities, the contemporary art world and war, and the production of historical consciousness in current museum and exhibition practices. Thinking About Exhibitions, which she co-edited with Bruce Ferguson and Sandy Nairne, remains a classic in the field. Her recent writings identify and analyze new exhibition genres (restitution exhibitions, remembering exhibitions, aggregate exhibitions, carte blanche exhibitions) as manifestations of contemporary politics within and outside the art world.

Notes

[1] Reesa Greenberg, “Restitution Exhibitions: Issues of Ethnic Identity and Art,” Intermédialités 15, (2010): 105–117.

[2] Jens Hoffman, “Imaginative Expansion (or, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull),” in When Attitudes Become Form Become Attitudes (San Francisco: CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 2012), np.

[3] Elitza Dulguerova, “L’expérience et son double: notes sur la reconstruction d’expositions et la photographie,” Intermédialités 15 (2010): 53–71.

[4] Miriam La Rosa, Re-enacting Exhibitions: an attempt to go beyond memory (unpublished manuscript, 2014), accessed July 15, 2017, https://www.academia.edu/7060695/Re-enacting_Exhibitions_an_attempt_to_go_beyond_memory.

[5] Germano Celant, “A Readymade: When Attitudes Become Form,” in When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 (Milan: Fondazione Prada, 2013), 389–392.

[6] Pierre Bal-Blanc, footnote for When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013, “On Reproduction and Re-Production,” in When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 (Milan: Fondazione Prada, 2013), 437–442.

[7] Marcel Jean, an early historian of Surrealism, was among the first to use the term. By contrast, in 2001, T. J. Demos titled his in-depth study of two Duchamp exhibitions “Duchamp’s labyrinth: First Papers of Surrealism,” October 97 (Summer 2001): 91–119.

[8] See the Oxford English Dictionary, accessed July 15, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/labyrinthine.

[9] Elena Crippa, et al., Exhibition, Design, Participation: “an Exhibit” 1957 and Related Projects (London: Afterall Books, 2016).

[10] Marcel Jean with Mezai Arpad, Histoire de la peinture surréaliste (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1959).

[11] The ArtForum articles are: “Inside the White Cube: Notes on the Gallery Space, Part I” (March 1976); “Inside the White Cube, Part II: The Eye and the Spectator” (April 1976); “Inside the White Cube Part III: Context as Content” (November 1976). O’Doherty’s book included the three articles as chapters with the same subtitles, a new chapter titled “The Gallery as Gesture,” an introduction by Thomas McEvillery, and an afterword by O’Doherty. See Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (San Francisco: The Lapis Press, 1986).

[12] Germano Celant, Ambiente Arte: Dal Futurismo alla Body Art (Venice: Alfieri Edizione, 1977). Celant’s essay, outlining the history of exhibition installation from 1912–1976, served as historical background for his group exhibition of sixteen contemporary in situ works.

[13] Bruce Altshuler, Salon to Biennial – Exhibitions That Made Art History, Volume 1:1863–1959 (London and New York: Phaidon, 2008).

[14] Bernd Klüser and Katherina Hegewisch, eds., Die Kunst der Austellungen, (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 1991). The French version, translated by Denis Trierweiler, is L’art de l’exposition: Trente expositions exemplaires du XXe siècle (Paris: Le Regard, 1998).

[15] Bruce Altshuler, Biennials and BeyondExhibitions That Made Art History, 1962–2002 (London and New York: Phaidon, 2012).

[16] Herman Kossman, Suzanne Mulder, and Frank Den Oudsten, Narrative Spaces: On the Art of Exhibiting (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2012).

[17] Jens Hoffman, Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art. (New York: DAP, 2014).

[18] After World War II, the Deutsches Museum, founded in 1903 and reduced in scope in the 1930s and ’40s by the National Socialist government, was reconstructed physically and ideologically. In 1969 Robert Oppenheimer, an experimental physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project with his brother, founded The Exploratorium.

[19] See http://histoiredesexpos.hypotheses.org/presentation/catalogue-raisonne-des-expositions.

[20] The practice reached its apogee with the to-scale reconstruction of the architectural space and reassembly of the majority of artworks included in Harold Szeeman’s 1969 Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form when it was re-presented at the Venice Prada Foundation in 2013. See When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 (Milan: Prada Foundation, 2013).

[21] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposition_Internationale_du_Surr%C3%A9alisme.

The entries underline that material reconstructions of an entire historical exhibition are rare and selections of what and how to reconstitute depend on the nature of the exhibition. Albeit fragmentary, the reconstruction section of the Wikipedia entry is unique and provides a model for future practice. Imagine, for a moment, what a Wikithon on all known labyrinthine exhibitions and their reprises might elicit.

[22] Didier Ottinger, Dictinnaire de l’objet Surréaliste (Paris: Gallimard, 2014).

[23] At Lose Yourself, Pamela M. Lee, in “Lying in the Gallery,” argued for horizontal viewing as symptomatic of post-internet work culture.

[24] La Rosa, 2014.