This was a group project between Molly Wei, Tine Ohlau, Thomas Sandahl Christensen and myself.
The Society for Participatory Conservation imagines a museum that breaks free of the archetypical brick and mortar institution. The society is unfolded through a gift shop with the leitmotif conservation through gifting. We believe that the gift shop as a space has the opportunity to be something more than a place of postcards, souvenirs and other commodities.
In our gift shop we invite the user to engage in museological practices. In particular the activity of conservation. For many people conservation conjures images of experts wearing white gloves while handling priceless artifacts in a sterile environment. We refuse this as the only viable form of conservation and question the subjective nature of any conservation activity.
Our response is materialized through two separate tool kits that allow the user to participate in The Society for Participatory Conservation. The kits refuse the museum as an institution tied to singular geographical location and moves the museum out into the world in the hands and homes of the members of the society. In that process we aim to challenge the notion that conservation is only about keeping artifacts and living practices static, pristine and controlled within an institution.
Gifting lies at the heart of The Society for Participatory Conservation. Each kit is only in the hands of a single member until they have used it to create their contribution to conservation. After that the kit is gifted onto an aspiring member of the society. This way the kits journey from person to person through the act of gifting leaving behind a trace of artifacts that become the museum out in the world. We see the gift shop as an introduction into thinking critically about the ways museum conserve cultural practices and artifacts. And maybe even more importantly, the things that cannot be conserved within a brick and mortar museum.
The Sourdough Kit
In the kit:
• Sourdough container
• Measuring cup
• Stirring mechanism
• Map and stickers
In The Sourdough Kit we explore the subject of alternative gifting cultures through the practice of making and sharing sourdough. By conserving cultures outside of the museum we hope to bring to light the many aspects of cultural life that cannot be conserved by using traditional conservation methods. Our practice challenges the notion that conservation is only about keeping an artifact and living practices static, pristine and controlled within an institution. We see this kit as an introduction into thinking critically about the ways the museum conserve cultural practices through the exploration of gifting cultures.
In this kit we look at dama, a gifting culture from Mali in West Africa. Practicing dama helps build bridges between individuals, strengthening the foundation of communities by using their gifting culture as a tool to tie people closer together.One study done in Bamako in Mali showed that on average persons gave 1.5 gifts per day. In dama gifts can come in all forms, a glass of water, a meal, a nice gesture and positive advice. When gifting in dama no attention is given to comparing of gifts given or received. There is no expectation that when receiving a gift you must a give one in return. Persons practicing dama believe that gifts return to you through your community.
The Society for Participatory Conservation gives you the tools to help you begin to practice dama, we use sourdough as a metaphor to represent the variety of gifts that can be giving in dama. Like dama we believe that the gifting process should between more than two people. We encourage you to practice dama by gifting the sourdough kit onto members of your community.
:Read our complete introduction into the Sourdough Kit below, in it we delve deeper into our reasoning and critique of conservation.
The David Kit
In the kit:
• Conservation tool
• Materials for casting
• Map and stickers
In the David Kit we critique conservation methods by giving the privilege of conserving David to the masses. We hope that by actively participating in this conservation practice and by sharing the kit with the others you will begin to understand the complexities that lie within the practice of conservation. By allowing you to engage in the act of conserving David we hope to shed light on the subjective choices involved in conservation and dismiss the idea that objective conservation exists. Any act of conservation, however scientifically sound, will always be a matter of choices and preferences whether by you or an expert conservator. Our practice challenges the notion that conservation is only about keeping an artifact and living practices static, pristine and controlled within an institution. We see this kit as an introduction into thinking critically about the ways museum conserve artifacts by actively engaging in conserving David.
:Read our complete introduction into the David Tool kit below, in it we delve deeper into our reasoning and critique of conservation