New Book | The Agency of Display

Posted in books by Editor on October 23, 2018

The essays in this edited volume originated from the conference Collections, Displays and the Agency of Objects (Cambridge University, 20–22 September 2017), which was part of the project ‘Parerga and Paratexts – How Things Enter Language: Practices and Forms of Presentation in Goethe’s Collections’. From Sandstein Verlag:

Johannes Grave, Christiane Holm, Valérie Kobi, and Caroline van Eck, eds., The Agency of Display: Objects, Framings, and Parerga (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2018), 192 pages, ISBN: 978-3954984169, 38€.

The display of artefacts always implies an external mediation that influences, and often codifies, the reception of the exhibits. Objects are manipulated, restored, appropriated, staged, in short displayed, through various representational strategies that include pedestals, labels, and showcases. These elements, which we could define as parerga, are often ignored because of their utilitarian function. Yet, they play an important role in the history of the artefacts and define the setting in which the objects can exert their agency. They not only shape their meaning, but also determine the effect that these artefacts have on their viewers. Framing devices create the conditions for interactions between the individual and the object to take place. This publication aims to explore the relation between artefacts and viewers as they are manifested in framing devices, and to develop a new theoretical framework for thinking about the power of objects on display.



Johannes Grave, Christiane Holm, Valérie Kobi, and Caroline van Eck, The Agency of Display: Objects, Framings, and Parerga—Introductory Thoughts

1  Display Situations
• Ivan Gaskell, Display Displayed
• Elsie Van Kessel, The Street as Frame: Corpus Christi Processions in Lisbon prior to João V
• Hannah Williams, Staging Belief: Immersive Encounters and the Agency of Religious Art in Eighteenth-Century Paris
• Mechthild Fend, Order and Affect: The Museum of Dermatological Wax Moulages at the Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris
• Cindy Kang, The Barnes Ensembles, Again

2  Parergonal Operations
• Dario Gamboni, Ready-Made Eye-Opener: Models, Functions, and Meanings of the Ironwork in Albert C. Barnes’s Displays
• Peter Schade The Reframing of Lazarus
• Diana Stört, Displaying Knowledge: Goethe’s Cabinets as Epistemic Furniture
• Angela Matyssek, Death by / Life by Wall Label
• Noémie Étienne, When Things Do Talk (in Storage): Materiality and Agency between Contact and Conflict Zones

Picture Credits