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Cultures are not Stagnant

Museums and  Carnivals – two very different forms of cultural consumption and  experience, but Day 7 of our SELFestival spent time reviewing the complexity of ownership and representation.


Dr Sylvia Lahav spoke about who chooses what is shown in a museum/gallery, owned, sometimes never shown but owned, and  how it is written about to engage/educate or tell “this is what I see, now let me tell you what you should see”. She reminded us that museums/galleries did not always have a mandate to educate. The honesty about privilege, class and  finance was shared, “as long as the permanent collections exist we are reminded of power, status, mobility and  class.”. She encouraged us to question the notion of legacy and  encouraged our curiosity and  to not know.

Carnival and  the origins and  current expression were explored by Dr Sharon LeGall, together with the complexity of an almost social franchise model. The divide between celebration of culture and  culture appropriation was very carefully explored, together with the impacts of colonisation. “Cultures are not stagnant” and  as they evolve so does the work, so tradition and  current expression and  technical movements are adapted together. The scale of Carnival is huge – the ecosystem of employment and  engagement comes to tens of thousands, and  the research Dr LeGall has undertaken in to the inidgenous knowledge was generously shared – “Collaborations should be open, persons should know what they are getting into… Persons should know how their creative work will be used.  It may be difficult to walk in somebody else’s shoes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”


Tomorrow we hear from independent musician, and  alumni of ICCE and  Goldsmiths Robin Braum. Followed by ICCE Fellow Deborah Williams The Festival has foregrounded many themes, compassion, optimism, collaboration and  the relationship and  needs for both learned and  lived experience.


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