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Cornelia G. Bogaard, IDSVAFollow





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Bakhtin’s concept of the dialogical has recently entered the museum world where it is sometimes understood as a communication tool between museums and visitors. While Bakhtin highlights the position of author and hero, it must be noted that the dialogical is not a dyadic but a triadic phenomenon, which is to say, it is through the plurality of autonomous voices, independent from the authorial discourse, that dialogue is actualized. This dissertation argues that Bakhtin’s dialogism can serve as a model for the contemporary museum as it seeks to give itself new relevance in the wake of Poststructuralism. It is specifically concerned with the contested issue of authority in the museum space. Instead of viewing authority as a form of power and control, the Bakhtinian perspective is predicated on an architectonics of co-authorship allowing a myriad of voices to interact simultaneously. That isn’t to say that every voice is the same or, no voices will be heard. Architectonics, which is the distinguishing feature of Bakhtin’s dialogism, is an exchange within the boundaries of ratio and proportion while at the same time being open to change.

Bakhtin’s concept of authoring changes the way we experience museums as it rejects the centrality of voice, be it the institution’s, the collection’s or the visitor’s. Significantly, dialogism emphasizes the ethical call of signifying other identities and rendering them complete. Thus understood, dialogism anchors the museum as a place where intersubjectivity can be explored, experienced, and learned. A corollary claim is made for artist interventions in the museum space as a way to break through the institution’s hegemonic structure. Drawing from museums and artists as well as critical theory and philosophy (Bakhtin, Kristeva, Foucault, Rancière, Agamben, etc.) this dissertation seeks to redefine notions of authority, subjectivity, community, participation and experience in contemporary art and museum.

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Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Philosophy


Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts


Portland, Maine

Never an Alibi: The Dialogical Museum



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