Disturbing pasts: Memories, controversies and creativity

Leon Wainwright


This themed issue of the Open Arts Journal, ‘Disturbing pasts: Memories, controversies and creativity’, brings together a range of artists, curators, policy-makers and academics from around the world, who explore creative engagements with controversial and traumatic pasts in art practice, curating and museums. The material is presented in three parts: ‘Difficult Pasts and Public Space’ (writings on historical issues and museums), ‘Visual Investigations’ (artists’ statements and criticism), and ‘Collaborations’ (visual analysis and artist-scholar pairings of writings and original artworks). This collection was developed through a two-year international research project led by Leon Wainwright, which involved three consortia of researchers from universities throughout Europe, and focused on a major public event at the Museum of Ethnology Vienna/ Weltmuseum, Wien (November 2011). The project is funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area, the European Science Foundation).



interdisciplinarity, museums, policy-making, cultural policy, difficult pasts, trauma, public space, creativity, controversy, memory, commemoration

Full text: Wainwright_p.1-6 (PDF, 697 KB)

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2014s01lw

Biographical note

Leon Wainwright is Kindler Chair in Global Contemporary Art at Colgate, New York, Reader in Art History at The Open University, UK, and Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford’s Department of History of Art and School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. He is co-editor (with Beccy Kennedy and Alnoor Mitha) of Triennial City: Localising Asian Art (Cornerhouse, 2014), and the forthcoming anthology (with Øivind Fuglerud, University of Oslo) Objects and Imagination: Perspectives on Materialization and Meaning (Berghahn, 2015). He is the author of Timed Out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean (Manchester University Press, 2011) and a recipient of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for the history of art.

An earlier version of this material was presented on the occasion of the project conference ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’ (20th-22nd November 2012, Museum of Ethnology/Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna). To view the film footage on the Open Arts Archive, http://www.openartsarchive.org, follow this link: http://www.openartsarchive.org/oaa/archive/947