[This is the fourth text in a series of seven, prepared by Christian Dunker, Professor in Psychoanalysis and Clinical Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychology at USP, which we are publishing weekly. up the title "The Education of the Look and the Reading of Images – Ethical Challenges for Museums" we already approached
I intend to show how mediation practices invite the encounter with the work as a reconstructive reading experience. This process can be understood as an ethical experience of recognition, involving aesthetic form and social contradiction. The ethical function of discourse, concentrated on the notion of letter, determines modes of relationship with the work that are also models of intersubjective relationship with the other. I present this theme based on seven ethical challenges for contemporary museums.
4. Architecture and Space: Image Sovereignty
The impact of digital life has a synchronous and contemporary relationship with the reformulation of the social place of museums. More than ever, museological thinking is needed to show that the contemporary is not transparent and immediate to ourselves. The contemporary is only obtained through the work of recreating the past, as a possible past for a contingent future. It is this work, which creates the contemporary as not identical with itself and not reducible to the “that's all there”, as a coherent and harmonic or disharmonious totality, whatever.
The digital experience does not happen all at once, in all positions, just as capitalism is not the same everywhere. The clock of history does not mark the same time in all its quadrants.
In this “new time” it is worth remembering that the museum is not just curatorship, it becomes more than ever architecture and ambience.
This happens, perhaps, due to the high level of profanation of the image that the new canvases have imposed on our relationship with the image. Virtually all content in all museums is “available” in small, miniaturized scale from computer screens, telephones and the like. This is not just a matter of scale, but also of experience of space, and of intersubjective sharing, of the relationship with the image. I can enjoy the Louvre sitting on my toilet, or rather, in front of a perfect replica of Duchamp's urinal. I can have every Gugenheim or Moma on my own park bench, which is not Giverny. I can even decide that that experience is over, simply by closing the screen: “I am the master of my time and the sovereign giver of my gaze, for the duration that suits me best, without anyone having the right to disturb this solitary experience”. Parodying Primo Lévi: “Is this a museum?".
walking through Carré des Arts (1993), from the small French town of Niemes, designed by Norman Foster, in front of a Greek temple, touring the architecture by Renzo Peano for the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) or the Gugenheim Museum in Bilbao (1992), from Frank Ghery, there is an awareness that the experience with the image needs to be reinvented as an experience of circulation, as a public space that modifies the traditional concept of framing. Let us recall John Berger's thesis in “Ways of Seeing”, the oil painting form is born as a kind of repossession of the self, as a portrait, as a repossession of the experience of lost nature, or of ancestral and mythical history, which defines the canvas as the frame of a safe. Modern ways of seeing are directly related to ways of possessing. That is why the new museological spaces need to invent new ways of possessing and, at the limit, criticizing the aesthetic forms by which we find ourselves masters and possessors of the image, when the truth of alienation, articulated by the grammar of our fantasy, is that it is the images that possess us. . This would have been the thesis of Lacan and also of Foucault, in their divergent readings about “Velasquez's Girls".
It is still not well understood why in Brazil, the experience of the Resistance Museum remains so exceptional, and the slavery museum does not get off the ground. Synchronous with the fact that we are the last Latin American country to have instituted a truth commission to investigate the crimes of the civil-military dictatorship.
It would not be the emergence of a culture of hate in the recent Brazilian past, also derived from the lack of memory resources and the reconstruction of traumatic experiences, which, as we know, once not elaborated tend to return with worse and more devastating effects of repetition and violence. , because lost in time. It is the intrusion of the past into the present without the mediation of the future. It is the repetition of the past of state violence with the same sanction and tolerance, but now directed at the murder of young black people from the periphery, for example.
We have here two important examples: the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, which seeks to reconstruct the dark experience of the concentration camps, with its vertical and oppressive architecture, with its unbalanced ramps, but also in the dialogue of this ambience with the machine that automatically rewrites and endlessly the Hebrew Torah. Thus, the work separates and contemplates this contradiction that is the treatment of the human as a thing, as a machine and its recovery, which can also be mechanical, reproducing in form what the content wants to forget.
Another strategy for the problem of image replacement is the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. A museum that prohibits photos of any interior area. Right at the box office we are drawn: “whites” or “non-whites”. And the entrance is bifid for each, barred and inaccessible to those on the other side, we are taken to the immediate discomfort that “we are missing something”, concomitant with the realization that the other is also missing something simply by being in the other corridor. .
The museum is not all like that, but this preparation, reduced to a brief experience with discrimination, educates the look and introduces a reading of everything that will follow through its bodily appropriation, moved by the moment of radical disempathy.