Blind Spots (A Traveller’s Tale): Notes on Cultural Citizenship, Power, Recognition and Diversity

MUSEUMS-CITIZENS-SUSTAINABILE-SOLUTIONSLiving Archives post-doc Temi Odumosu recently contributed an article to the Danish Agency for Culture publication Museums – Citizens and Sustainable Solutions. Here’s an excerpt.

EXCERPT – When I moved to Copenhagen from London for a postdoc in the summer of 2012, the first thing I did after absorbing the initial culture shock, was visit galleries and museums. Initial encounters with Danes were polite but often reserved, and those spontaneous conversations one experiences in other larger cities were generally difficult to find. It became clear that English was being used as a language of formality, but not of intimacy. And looking for deeper connection, I sought solace in the spaces I knew best, and explored artefacts and archives to curate my own conversation with Denmark. My journey started with the big nationals, which were sometimes quirky but also deeply familiar in modes of presentation I had seen abroad. Then I made my way off the beaten track to smaller museums on subjects as diverse as caricature, Jewish history, and even glass art. Occasionally I left Copenhagen just to find out more about ships or toys, or to visit that “must see” Bill Viola. I was an ‘explorer’, ‘recharger’ and ‘hobbyist’ (with occasional moments of experience-seeking), and I roamed the cultural landscape freely. But soon I began to recognise that staff and other visitors perceived my presence as strange, unexpected and surprising. Those who were curious probed my interests, whilst others simply stared for seconds too long. I realised that as an African woman I occupied a space that was not used to receiving me. It was as if I had trespassed on hallowed ground. Why was this the case?

Read more:

» Blind Spots (A Traveller’s Tale): Notes on Cultural Citizenship, Power, Recognition and Diversity (PDF, 17.4 MB, pp. 110–119).

» The Stereotypes Remain the Same – interview with Temi Odumosu

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