A Polysemic object and Emotions: Power of objects to highlight lived experiences

Asian Arts Museum, Humboldt Forum, Berlin

The display at the Berlin Science Week 2023 showcased different bottled-up emotions
experienced by visitors at the Asian Arts Museum, representing different colours associated with them. Some of the questions these interviews explored were:

What emotions do you feel after looking at the image and after reading about the context?

Is a museum object’s composition/design the main way it is able to express or arouse
emotions in its audience? Or is it the material or the space/environment? Or is it the
expectations, intentions, cultural assumptions/ preconceived ideas and associated with it that
are experienced during engagement with the objects?

My interviewees and I engaged in discussing the following dimensions:

Question of meaning associated with physical objects
Translation of difference, politics of exhibition
Methods of display- how do they affect perception
Methods of display create contexts for meaning production
Exhibitions as constructions

This study focuses on the ‘encounters’ of the present within the critical contact zone of
museum space. What are the affective dimensions of these encounters and what role do emotions play in meaning-making related to questions of identity and belonging?

How do emotions get attached to objects and how does this help in the epistemological, cultural and political expression of identity, and in the expression of cross-cultural awareness?

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