Indian Living Cultures: Collected, Exhibited and Performed

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This book chapter has developed from a panel co-convened by Nicola Ashmore and Megha Rajguru ‘Exhibiting South Asia, 1901- 2012’, for the Design History Society’s 2013 conference Towards Global Histories of Design: Postcolonial Perspectives, hosted outside of Europe for the first time at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. Ashmore’s co-authored paper led to the development of this chapter continuing this collaboration with Rajguru. The paper gives consideration to the influence of global politics on the critique of the representation of India through performance and art commissions in regional museums in the UK. This paper is in the proceedings of the 2013 Annual Design History Society Conference made available to a larger public through its online publication. This book chapter critiques the representation of India through performance and art commissions in regional museums in the UK and through museum displays in India. This body of work incorporates the study of the impact of cultural diversity policies on practices of commissioning artists in regional museums in the UK from 1997 onwards. It also considers the influence of the rise in Hindu fascism in this same period when interpreting art commissions and displays. Of the literature available that attends to the interaction between government policy and curatorial decision-making (Crooke, 2008; Appleton, 2001) it is Ashmore and Rajguru that focus on art commissions and performance rather than conventional museum collections. This contribution compares displays in regional museums in both the UK and in India. It expands upon both authors’ previous publications. Rajguru’s (2013), (2012 and (2011) and Ashmore’s publications (2015) and (2011). Ashmore’s previous publications provide new insights into two of the crucially important cases of representation of source communities in regional museums, at Manchester Museum and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. The publications are ‘Commissioning artists: community engagement, ethnographic collections, and changes in curatorial practices from the 1990s to 2000s in the UK,' Museum History Journal, Vol. 8, (2015) and ‘Making for museums: commissioning living cultures,’ Journal of Museum Ethnography (2011). Significantly the relationship not only between curatorial staff and source communities is addressed in these publications, but the mediation within that relation by an artist. Ashmore continues to investigate contemporary art practice to illuminate how meaning is constructed and held in material form to reveal local and global political issues. She is currently researching remakings of Pablo Picasso's Guernica, which have been created collaboratively as a form of political activism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign objects and the museum
EditorsLiz Farrelly, Jo Weddell
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781472577238
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016


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