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Margareta Gynning

Page history last edited by Sonja Lopez 10 years, 9 months ago

Margareta Gynning is Senior Curator and Controller of Exhibitions at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm/Sweden, currently planning an online project about the Museum’s permanent collections, which shall be used when the museum closes for refurbishing.


She is a feminist who has been making exhibitions (35), educational programs (in house and online) and published books and articles on various aspects of the visual culture of the 1800s and 1900s. In the last ten years she has mainly collaborated with artists, illustrators, photographers and actors, trying to go beyond institutional boundaries, in order to enable transformative encounters with “the public”.


Gynning holds a PhD in Art History from Uppsala University (1999) and has been affiliated with Centre for Gender Research and Centre for Fashion Studies at Uppsala and Stockholm Universities.


Respondents Margareta Gynning and Lara Perry discuss  Griselda Pollock's " Feminism in the Virtual Museum" 


>> Can I start by asking you, you made a very strong argument I think for you know the use of technology and in a context that's informed by a judgment rather than just the imperative of innovation.  ‑‑ the feminist issues with innovation are or should be and I was thinking about that for the reasons that it's very innovation has a really important role in art discourse as well as technological discourse if there's something that those things chair an increasingly it also has a role now in the ‑‑ the other part of the question I wanted to ask about has to do with when you suggest we need to use our judgment in relation to technology I wonder what the ethical about the deployment what that process in judgment should take in consideration.

>> I knew it was they are huge and difficult ones because it's a question I keep asking myself and again what you say in terms of everything that constantly being huge in a sense and under what circumstances now could we have a judgment or the judgment is extremely and the idea he wanted to get rid of that notion that there's some universal an priority an consolidated sense that doesn't stop us from having to have it so that shift into a kind of not aesthetic judgment and say this is good or bad or this is better or more important, but in a sense it does move to the ethical ground the notion that it's not universe list or we critiqued the way which is the notion of the mutual an universally given actually revealed very particular privilege ‑‑ we are obliged to reconsider the world in which the human condition has been literally suspend or it can be suspended we live with that and we are obliged to have ‑‑ with regard to safety dignity an security of the other.  I see that is if you just allow people to represent back to us the feminist initiative as having been, to PAEUBG sure a few women get on it to be just as how would you expand the ‑‑ once you ask that question in the ways you repose that it reposes all the other questions so it's not like there's gender or race or make the choice of put together the subway sandwich and decide what you are going to do.  From the very moment once you ask certain questions about how in relations you precipitate it into a sequence of other ones.  So this is where this question of I can hold it together.  It's one of the difficult ones on the one hand it's posting what would make every persons humanity safe and that humanity being by definition not like mine because it's diverse, so we are always in the world of difference in that way.  I think that for me it's just become I'm not preaching this I am simply saying as I struggle to make sense for myself, so I open it to say I feel dispossessed of my own ORIENTATIONs you know I don't have a ‑‑ that can say okay turn right or left now.  We are mapping such rapidly changing situations and circumstances that we haven't had to confront in terms of real desolation of people's lives.  So in that question you know if I can approach some last bits and say not so much innovation now that innovation is just demonstrations sake we have exposed the complete betrayal of that.  We're reclaiming an idea that there's some elements of the dream of democracy that we started identity's been challenged and it has to be reworked with all the different voices in it.  Feminism always remained it does have a place to say we are going to make something better.  Life must be safe without emotional an physical and literal abuse.  It's not external here for some kind of priority or some notion.  It's how do we navigate a way of saying not everything goes not everything is good and the same I think with technology is that it's always that's why I raise the ‑‑ it's little it's not to say it's all we knew before.  It's not knew.  It's here someone is in another moment in an intense ‑‑ looked and said this can go either way and I find that kind of reminder that I can't arrive I just got to keep thinking, and working and going also an integrating with art working you want to be able to say this is taking this seriously.  I think this is ‑‑

>> Couldn't you give answers but they are not the only ones?  Say some more about that

>> I think it's always like deconstruction you always have to ask question but no one is asked to give answers.  I think that we can give answers but they are not the only ones, so it's I mean you give answers all the time but they are not linear and they are not they are more fluid and so forth, but you can still give answers.  Well, in one sense I think, yes I am not avoiding giving an answer but it's more in sense of what would be the practice by means of which I supposed this is with a I am trained to do an what I train people who work with me to say you keep asking questions.  You keep thinking, but you do have to take responsibility to say at this point and I'm saying at this point I think the question judgment and these are the people I have invited into my virtual THAOER tech is this space many of the things.  Things like this happen obviously in academic tings, but actually very public and diverse conversations happen only in the extended programs at museums that provide these sort of discussions there.  I think there is a way of saying I am offering this for the moment how would you ground judgment.  These are the people that I would invite in to help me get variance on this.  I supposed I am hiding behind that you know ‑‑ you can think that's the work of the feminism nature.  I want them to play off each other.  I am not coming here and saying I ‑‑ what you find in art schools suddenly there's the one everybody is learning from.  ‑‑ that couldn't get away from it still.  That's what you play off of.

>> I have a question when it comes to enabling encounters when you think about it the different rooms you inhabit with your work it's your students, you work with exhibitions an you work with museum collections and you work on‑line.  So when you think about these different rooms that you are actually moving around in how, can you expand on that the difference between these different rooms?

>> That's a very interesting question.  I want to try an bring it back to the things we are talking about here.  One of the biggest an most interesting questions is this question of intimacy and public life both is being transformed.  One of the things that's in terms of a University space it is being sorted by the presence of new media is the operation of intimacy.  It does have levels of face to face an go back to the ignorant school master that does become a kind of adventure that needs a certain kind of intimate collectivity in a certain way which cannot be replaced by the intimacy that comes in.  It's not in the technology it's obviously with the intelligence it's particularly used.  I do find that is immensely important.  I find my experience with working with museums is ‑‑ they are not ignorant school master they are all very knowledgeable curator what does this women know?  I never had very much success in ever getting any museums to let me do.  I cure rated a few museums and one at the Freud museum and then I discovered I was diluted because I I thought I was curating something I just created an opportunity for something else to happen, so to write another 50, 000 word book about what happened.  So that's a very interesting experience for me to realize that I really it's something happened you know which required all of us to be doing our ‑‑ I diluted to think that.  I have to say that I have not, I don't have time to be on‑line I'm BUSY writing books an talking and teaching.  I don't have time to twitter.  I can hardly text.  I just think it's a facility that probably is not a place in time for me.

>> It could be so relational in a sense that you are talking about this sort of meeting a particular issue get as a relational room which is not a room.

>> It clearly does work for many people and I can see with what you have set up here there's a free event which is an actual time and space and there's going to be an after life.  As archiving and I'm still go back to the question about you know where do, where does the event actually take place?  The facilitation is there.awe that's why I think one of question about technology that we need to ask deeply if it is a new order of relationalty how do we really research this question and that's why I mean when for instance ‑‑ first very melancholy looked at the terrible effects of mass entertainment spectacle.  Nonetheless, he said one thing is wonderful when people go to a movie.  Even though TAEU are passively human they experience something together and they are part of something an even if they only go out an talk about the movie to the person they came with.  You belong to something.

>> There is a moment of intimacy there.

>> It's a paradoxical in‑‑ the critiques of face book and even my space I have students working on this for they got very excited you are offering every detail that PARenT research is used to be paid to find out and you know now the man is a for which you know of selling everything to advertisers at the same time piggy backing on a huge capital venture.  They are using it how various communities, black communities in Britain were piggy backing on the back of so many communication networks to facilitate the transmission of the marginalized an minor discourses an how young people interfering.  He was reading the financial times about the way ins which people were adapting an reprogramming what we are going to be sort of focused commercialized for the purposes so that the establish a connection so that would go from a bad way to back over to Jamaica or form different kinds of networks.  That was possible with low levels of the kind of technologies.  I think it's always dialect call in that sense.  That's where I go back to my question of how would we ground a kind of judgment but a kind of mapping to be able to say these are constituted projects as opposed to these are constituting sort of obviously delightful useful things.  I can't possibly go in places because why would instantly, you are making yours yourself available ‑‑ it's not possible.  Give people access to your information I am too scared because of the implications.

>> I think people have lots of different ways of going on face book there's no single way.  I think people have different ways.  I wanted to exploit it more, but I was thinking while you were talking about the museum an the transformative challenge and how you positive one kind of encounter with the art work that individual spectator you have a meeting with the art work, but that you also seem to be suggesting that there's a transformative encounter in the discussion or the between the all the people who are encountering art work?  There are kind of two axis of that transformative encounter in the museum.  I wonder if I can prompt you to develop what you think the relationship with technology to either of those elements in transformative encounters is when it pertains to the museum?

>> Yes that's also very interesting ‑‑ again, the question is time into this clearly one of the things any of us involved in arts an maw seem an particularly now in a term in which so there's ‑‑ published a very important book called non forprofit which is a critique that's happening globally in University education in which the sense an the arts an humanities have TPO economic impact and no relevance.  She's tracking this across the world.  She worked in India where scientific education an technological education and in Britain having funded to some extent has no money for the arts after humanities these no longer to be funned.  What might be the meaning an significance of literally the encounter with art work.  I think we are going to have to come up with defenses of this in it's role and of course it does hold that particular question I was using about how do people come to it and learn it and make the space their own to feel at home with it and to have encounters which are transformative an for that of course it's not that it's can just say come and look right?  This is a complicated operation perhaps.  It has it's history.  You know obviously the institution can be either welcoming an I think that's one of the questions that what would facilitate that particular sense of aesthetic encounter which you could say is the heart of the arts an humanities which isn't naked an pure an simple an spontaneous but equally shoulden be burdened with the kinds of excluding or disabling or ‑‑ which have already been digested it for you.  That's where it seems to me that the technology in the extended communities can continue to play a role trying to hold onto the sense of how do you facilitate people learning what the idea of the translation or the sharing of translations.  I think ‑‑ is right you have to set your responses against others responses, verify what you say and say that's what I find so interesting ‑‑ but that what he calls the distribution of the sensible IE the distribution of the sensing in knowing the saying and he's using the concept of distribution it does need to have that so that they unilaterally transmit and it can be shouted the information.  It does matter what people are given to the the with you know and that's what I have the impression about it's not a matter of a purist ‑‑ the complexity developed if art practices an where they come from even in the most individualized post modern exception is astonishing if you want to give people keys or clues to facilitate that.  I think that would be for me a way in which you would be fostering possibility, but the crucial thing which I GAVE from ‑‑ work you cannot predict what encounter between what works by whom with authorizing knowledge you encounter this because it's important and it's good, right where is you know so we fall into it's fine an tell me what you think?  There's too much at stake that's why I go back to my thing it's about life ‑‑ it makes a huge amount if you say people this is a man burdened by sexuality pleasured an burdened by sexuality.  He's look ing into the face of death from his own ‑‑ now I think a lot of people could probably relate to too much sexuality or too little an then the illness and all sorts of questions I think that's infinitely more engaging.  Why does it he do it that way?  Whey would that happen?  And then people say that's an interesting way of looking at the world if you translate something into an incredibly extra ordinarily formal operation.  You foe I have this thing that the assignment says it's like a Murphy bed this is coming at you an say o my god.  You come around and how is this way I am allowed to talk in my University desires people to say what would happen if I told you that story about picaSSO.

>> By using words you can use your body.  I think there's so many more possibles than just the image and the word

>> That's right.

>> I think you can use that sense

>> That gives me all kinds of ideas for things to talk about tomorrow.  Nancy has asked me to bring this discussion for the POEPLT to a close, so can I thank GRISELDA for a stimulating open lecture.






Museum collections are vital to focus on in a “liquid world” (Z. Bauman) like ours. By exposing parallels between Now and Then, sensing how the past is part of the present, a museum with Historical Art Collections can show how meaning is construed visually in our global culture. In order to enable transformative encounters between museum “visitors” and permanent collections we need to move away from the seductive nature of a culture that focuses on the surface of things. And to challenge the present aesthetics of consumption by stressing the importance of dialogue and mutual respect for multiple perspectives and experiences.


The topics and examples that I would like to discuss concern a feminist online project about the Nationalmuseum’s permanent collections in Stockholm, Sweden that I am currently working on. The museum will close for refurbishing and our plan is to use the museums website, a temporary exhibition space with LCD screens and a mobile visual presentation for schools, art society’s and community centre’s. The following four themes from this online exhibition will be presented; Classicism / The Aristocratic Ideal / The Shifting of the Balance of Power/ Nationalism. I will also show examples of prior exhibitions and workshops on similar topics, and focus on our work with body language with visitors (inhouse and online), relational artists and actors.


Further reading

Hand-Made. Drawings from Nationalmuseum. Exhibition catalogue on line Handgjort, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 2010. Page 1-18.

Now and Then - where surface and body intercept. Exhibition catalogue Alexander Roslin, Nationalmuseum,Stockholm 2007. Page 121-125.

Artist Couples at the turn of the 19th Century. Exhibition catalogue Konstnärspar kring sekelskiftet 1900, Nationalmuseum,Stockholm 2006. Page 8-19, 78-240.

Look out! Image awareness and visual culture. Exhibition catalogue Se upp! om bildförståelse och visuell kommunikation, Nationalmuseum,Stockholm 2005. Page 1-47. 


Online for teachers and students:



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