Thursday, November 3, 2016

So-called provenance and collecting histories

The latest number of the International Journal of Cultural Property (IJCP) 23.3 (August 2016) has a cluster of papers that will be of interest. The starting point is Elizabeth Marlowe's, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Provenance: A Response to Chippindale and Gill" [DOI], pp. 217-236.
In an influential article published in 2000, David Gill and Christopher Chippindale devised a scale to assess the quality of the provenance information provided for the antiquities displayed in seven recent high-profile exhibitions or collections. This article critically reviews Chippindale and Gill’s provenance scale, arguing that the values it encodes legitimize some of the more intellectually harmful practices of dealers and curators. The scale also fails to differentiate between more intellectually responsible methods of hypothesizing provenance and those that merely generate houses of cards. An alternative model for assessing how antiquities are discussed in museum scholarship, focusing on epistemological precision and reflexivity, is offered.
This is followed by:

  • Gill, David W.J. (2016) ‘Thinking About Collecting Histories: A Response to Marlowe’, International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), pp. 237–244. doi: 10.1017/S0940739116000187. 
  • Lyons, Claire L. (2016) ‘On Provenance and the Long Lives of Antiquities’, International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), pp. 245–253. doi: 10.1017/S0940739116000199. 
  • Bell, Malcolm. (2016) ‘Notes on Marlowe’s “What We Talk about When We Talk about Provenance”’, International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), pp. 254–256. doi: 10.1017/S0940739116000205.

Marlowe concludes with:

  • Marlowe, E. (2016) ‘Response to Responses on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Provenance”’, International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), pp. 257–266. doi: 10.1017/S0940739116000217.

Essentially Marlowe concludes that the situation is even more bleak that the one that we had described.

My hope is that those discussing cultural property will stop using the obsolete word "provenance".


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1 comment:

lalbertson said...

I try and reinforce collecting history David, but people forever seem to prefer a French accented pronunciation "provenance.

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