Ongoing Research Project
The Uncontainable Collections Research Project is an online workshop series that invites local and global curators, conservators, scholars, and arts practitioners to discuss the care and engagement with institutional collections. The workshop series considers the main components of the AGYU’s collection: modern and contemporary art works, public sculptures, and cultural objects.
The first iteration of the series focuses on African cultural and ceremonial objects. The invited speakers include Sanchita Balachandran, conservator and Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies; Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, Professor of Practice at SOAS in the Centre for African Studies and the Director of the V&A East Museum, London; M. NourbeSe Philip, a Toronto-based poet, writer, independent scholar, and former lawyer; and Ciraj Rassool, Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa who directs the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies. Each speaker uses their unique expertise and experience to address questions of community engagement, conservation, education, interpretative planning, repatriation, and the ethics of museological care.
The format of each series begins with each speaker first sharing their knowledge via a recorded video presentation (linked below) followed by a group dialogue. We then brought our speakers together for Holding Presence, Holding Histories: a live roundtable conversation moderated by the AGYU Curator of Collections and Contemporary Engagement, Liz Ikiriko.
This conversation, and The Uncontainable Collections Research Project at large, aspires to be a resource for students, faculty, curators, and museum educators, serving as a pedagogical tool that can contribute to new discursive frameworks that challenge the colonial legacies that have informed the care and stewarding of art collections. Furthermore, this iteration brings together these informed local and global voices to provide an opportunity for the AGYU to envision and engage Afro-diasporic communities in new strategies for greater cultural care of collections.
The Uncontainable Collections Research Project is funded in part through the support of the Elizabeth L. Gordon Art Program, a program of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation.
Working in conjunction with York University Professor Warren Crichlow, AGYU gathered questions from graduate students regarding museum collections to propose to our guest speakers. Our speakers were given the opportunity to respond to the questions and/or present their focus and perspective on collecting cultural and ceremonial objects. Each individual recorded presentation acts as an introduction to their professional and creative motivations regarding ethnographic, anthropologic, and museological considerations.
The presentations are linked below: