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At the Museum1989

A Pilgrimage of Vanquished Objects

  • 3.8
This film, produced during an artist-in-residence at the Oakland Museum in California, is about archiving and documenting culture in the 20th century. AT THE MUSEUM: A PILGRIMAGE OF VANQUISHED OBJECTS explores how all types of archiving, including documentary filmmaking, inevitably creates its own history from the artifacts it collects, specific to the needs of the documentarian. Using the Oakland Museum's displays and collections as an environment, the narrator in AT THE MUSEUM: A PILGRIMAGE OF VANQUISHED OBJECTS leads the viewer on a tour of a mythical museum during which displays and the individuals represented within them come alive and discuss how their role as artifact and image contrasts with their actual lives. For example, the tape looks at the famous Dorothea Lange photograph of "The Migrant Mother" included in the museum's archive. We then meet one of the children in the photograph, now almost 60 years old and she talks about the difference between her life as an image and her life as a woman with children of her own. The tour guide suggests a variety of interpretations of each display which challenge the authority of the educational museum, documentary filmmaking and the voice of the narrator itself. The tour ends in the Natural Science department, confronted by an environmental condition that maps the history of progress.

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