Séamus Nolan

School: School of Art History and Cultural Policy

Supervisor: Dr Róisín Kennedy

Funding: Irish Research Council

Modalities of participation and spectatorship: a practice based enquiry into discourses and methodologies of participation and spectatorship in contemporary visual art museums

Working with the collections department of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, this practice-based study examines the role of the contemporary museum in representing marginal cultures with a specific focus on Irish Travellers. The research emerges from an extensive and ongoing inquiry into the role of Traveller material culture within museums and collections in Ireland. In recent years, museums and galleries have embraced their social role by seeking to engage with diverse communities but the matter of how Traveller culture is engaged by the contemporary art museum has yet to be explored in a systematic fashion. This will be the first such study. The research draws on long-standing experience in socially engaged art. It is conducted largely through collaborative creative practice with members of the Travelling community to explore the materiality of the museum as a site of representation. The focus moves beyond autonomous artworks to encompass the broader material realm of the museum including collecting and cataloguing practices, educational programs and processes that represent or elide diverse communities and ethnicities. The project will produce a holistic study of the museum, its objects and processes. It will develop models of sustained engagement and co-creation practices that might manifest new ways that museums can map or remap marginal cultural terrains. Presented through a series of workshops, exhibition and written thesis, it aims to posit a different framework for understanding the materiality of the contemporary art museum and inform models of practice that will lead to greater inclusion and shared understanding  

Contact: seamus.nolan1@ucdconnect.ie