VON HÜGEL LECTURE 2018 – 13 June 2018

Professor John Mack

Narrating and Curating the ‘Ritual Object’

The lecture has been rescheduled for Wednesday 13 June 2018 at 5.30pm and will take place at the McCrum Lecture Theatre at Corpus Christi College followed by a reception at the Museum.

A ‘shrine’ to Sir Hans Sloane, constructed in 2004 for an exhibition celebrating the 250th anniversary of the British Museum of which he was the founder.

Narrating and Curating the ‘Ritual Object’ Ritual is a core subject in anthropology; and objects which are a part of ritual process may be accredited separate appraisal – and sometimes treatment – in museums. Yet, the ‘ritual object’ can seem little more than a residual category applied to things created without an obvious function and often from outside the Judaeo-Christian context in which the term has acquired a (sometimes conflicted) meaning. More recently the problematic aspects of the definition have been confronted by a series of analyses in anthropology and art history which focus on the agency of objects, subsuming ‘the ritual’ within a wider understanding of their capacity for affect. The lecture explores this theme through a number of case studies, pursuing its implications in interpretation, exhibition practice and as referenced by contemporary artists.

There will be a drinks reception at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology after the lecture.

John Mack

John Mack is Professor of World Art Studies in the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of EastAnglia where he specialises in African visual culture. Prior to that he was Keeper of the Museum of Mankind and Senior Keeper of the British Museum and has extensive experience of curatorial and exhibition practice. He has worked in various parts of east and central Africa, the western Indian Ocean and most recently coastal areas in west Africa. His publications include Museum of the Mind (2003), The Art of Small Things (2007), The Sea: A Cultural History (2011) and The Artfulness of Death in Africa (forthcoming)

THE VON HÜGEL LECTURE With the generous support of Peter Chapman, Chair of the MAA Friends, the Museum has established an annual Von Hügel Lecture to commemorate the energy and contribution of the founding Curator, Baron Anatole von Hügel (1854-1928), and to ensure ongoing discussion of the intellectual challenges raised by the Museum and its remarkable collections. We are in addition very grateful to Jeffrey Bowen for a generous donation in support of the 2018 lecture.

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