May 2, 2012

In the text ”On the Museum’s Ruins” Douglas Crimp presents one aspect of the museum as being a sanctuary or mausoleum for art, thus considering objects of art to be dead as they reach the museum, also implying that they were once alive. The museum is also described as a historical archive for art, holding previously attained knowledge and accomplishments. The museum is thus considered as a tomb for art, a tomb where we visit the dead, the dead that in turn act as a reference for the present – just as the library, the archive or any type of (historical) collection. Crimp points out that the content of such a collection of saved or stored objects is often heterogenous and even contradictory. At the same time the museal collection usually presents its material in an orderly manner, according to categories of cronology, style or species. In this way it attempts to constitute a coherent catalogue of knowledge. He cites ”The set of objects the museum dispalys is sustained only by the fiction that they somehow constitute a coherent representational universe…Such a fiction is the result of an uncritical belief in the notion that ordering and classifying, that is to say, the spatial juxtaposition of fragments, can produce a representational understanding of the world.Should the fiction disappera, there is nothing left of the museum but ”bric-a-brac”, a heap of meaningless and valueless fragments of objects…”

In the case of running the equivalent of the archive of references would of course be the record statistics of championships, or on a local scale the club records or the timing from the last rounds of jogging. What’s striking in the comparison is the extreme intolerance for any kind of heterogeneity in running (competitions). Running can always be quantified and evaluated in terms of distance and duration. But one could argue that many aspects of running thereby are ignored or set aside. The subjective experience of rythmicly moving your body, the health aspects of training, the bodily transformations, the pain, the feeling of stepping on asphalt compared to soil, sand or moss, and so on.

The museum and the lists of records can both be seen as the product or result of attemptimg to present a continous story based on a number of singularities. To be able to do this, an order or structure is established. A structure of categories such as sculpture, painting, graphic work or marathon, cross-country and sprint, as well as a number of more or less defined parameters used for measuring and evaluation.

The sorting, the classification, the evaluation all call for some kind of reduction. In the case of runners it is staying on a certain track, being of a certain age or gender and not having certain chemical substances running through your veins. In the case of art it is of course more questionable to say that such restrictions exist, nevertheless the museets format och ambition att sammanfatta och återberätta may restrict its contents and interfere with the inherent heterogeneity and contradictions of the woks of art.

In the text of Tony Bennett, the withdrawl of punishment from the gaze of the public by the establishment of prisons is paralleled with the developemnet of exhibitionary complexes, such as the museum. He describes how they both relate to an architecture of display and compare how they use principles of organization of people and their gazes. Thus he relates the museum to ideas of dicipline and surveillance, and to order, not just of objects but also of people, the museum visitors.

To once again recall the institution of running, one could consider the stadium as a similar form of display, in many ways similar to the panopticon. There is also the more recent phenomena of gym display windows, often exposing a number of runners aligned on their machines, as emblems of an active, healthy lifestyle. Bennett quotes ”please remember when you get inside the gates you are part of the show” when describing the museum visitor both as spectators and watched objects. The quote also applies quite well to the indoor runner becoming part of a gym display, while being offered a view out the window. The tying of a body to the fixed space of the running machine behind a window also bears some resemblance to being in a cage or a cell.

About the developement of spaces for running: Whereas the runner in the stadium move across a large field and the olympic competators of ancient egypt would leap between columns at a distance of 800 m. This could be seen as examples of different dispositions of the running body, corresponding to different architectures for running. The marathon or olympic race as moving from one point to another, the race track of a stadium as running in circles, returning to your starting point, and the fixing of the body to the running machine, where the progress and movement inherent in running seems gone.

– Cecilia Lundbäck


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: