Museums Issues With Open-Air Photographs

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Even though there was still to a certain extent a paternalistic tenor in the diction of the event organizers, the change in the roles, functions and perspectives of the participants marked forms of appropriation that clearly went beyond the participatory initiatives, which had been expressed since the end of the 1970s in the debate about the task and function of museums.10 In Tejgadh participation meant to be observer and observed at the same time, with alternating perspectives and interests. For the period of the presentation, the photographs caused—in a way that is not unlike the qualitative sociological interview process of the “photo-elicitation”—all of the viewers, regardless of their social, professional or disciplinary background, to act and speak both about the customs and conventions of earlier generations of the indigenous population of India, their current meaning and the specific characteristics of everyday life today, as well as about the ways in which photography is used in the context of scientific research and local social politics. They exposed the preconceptions and expectations with which the local organizers as well as the European scientists had contextualized the event in advance. Without appearing with respective stable profiles and clearly differentiated from one another the different audiences performed themselves and in relationship to one another. A fluid, reciprocal representation on several levels, which not least brings to the fore the social

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