Symposium on Labyrinthine Exhibitions as Curatorial Model

2-4 feb 2017

Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Per Olof Utveldt during construction of HON – en kathedral at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1966.

Both Dylaby (1962) in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and HON – en katedral (1966) in Stockholm’s Moderna Museet are remarkable exhibitions in the history of curating. Walking into a large vagina, shooting paint, gazing at the stars in a planetarium, dancing the twist, plowing a path through a room filled with balloons: the exhibitions might easily be considered more as theme park attractions than serious art shows, comprising theatrical props instead of works of art. At first glance, these two exhibition “aberrations,” resulting from the close collaboration of museum directors Willem Sandberg (Dylaby) and Pontus Hultén (HON), as well as artists Martial Raysse, Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and Per-Olof Ultvedt, seem to defy serious analysis, let alone contribute to the critical discourse of contemporary exhibition history.

However, these large-scale, collaborative and comprehensive exhibition installations have attracted both the expanding academic field of exhibition history and current curatorial practices. But how are we to understand the body of knowledge produced by a generation of historically conscious, self-reflexive curators and art historians alike? What (critical) models do exhibitions such as Dylaby and HON provide for contemporary curatorial, artistic, and scholarly practices?

During the symposium, a selection of key experts in the field will address these questions and frame them in the wider context of the naissance of the modern and contemporary art museum and the role models of Pontus Hultén and Willem Sandberg, our continuous engagement with the art production of the 1960s, the place of these exhibitions in the wider artistic oeuvres of the participating artists, post-1960s “labyrinthine” exhibition practices at large, and the growing discipline of exhibition history.


The symposium, entitled Lose Yourself – A Symposium on Labyrinthine Exhibitions as Curatorial Model, starts with and navigates around the territory encountered in Dylaby and HON, in order to investigate the legacy of labyrinthine exhibition models and its relevance in the twenty-first century. Among the confirmed keynote speakers are: Pamela M. Lee (Stanford University), Mark Wigley (Columbia University), Patrik Andersson (Emily Carr University of Art + Design), Noit Banai (University of Vienna),  Ina Blom (University of Oslo), Eric de Bruyn (Leiden University) and museum directors Daniel Birnbaum (Moderna Museet), Beatrix Ruf (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam) and Roland Wetzel (Tinguely Museum).

Preceding the symposium, a young researchers colloquium at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will explore the broader context of artistic and curatorial approaches to Setting the Conditions of Display in 20th and 21st century art.


A detailed program will be announced in September 2016, along with information and advice regarding travel and accommodation.
A call for papers for the young researchers colloquium can be found here.
The symposium fee covers entrance to the museum and drinks organized within the framework of the event.  

More information and tickets.