From shrine to plinth: illuminating the identity of the the hindu deity in the museum through artistic intervention

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From Shrine to Plinth examines the role of artist intervention in contemporary museums. It undertakes a critical review of the author's exhibition of a series of artworks at the Croydon Clocktower in 2008, which functioned as an intervention with an aim to critique the exhibition of Hindu deities in secular museums. This article calls into question the very classification of religious artefacts as art and its curatorial mechanisms in the museum that generate the secular act of close viewing and observation. It compares this with the temple ritual of viewing the deity. Emerging from two separate viewing traditions, the post Enlightenment inquisitive gaze in the former, and the transcendental viewing or 'darshan' in the latter, this article reflects upon the role of art in exploring non-tangible meanings of objects. It reflects upon the ritualistic behaviour of the visitors in exhibition From Shrine to Plinth and its effect on their response to the deities on display. This paper makes an important contribution to the study of curating objects of worship, which is an ongoing debate in museum studies and offers alternative modes of curatorial thinking, which are closely aligned with art practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-128
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Museum Ethnography
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2012


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