Talk: “Exhibitions and Museums: When Are They Art?” at Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent

On Wednesday 3rd of April 2019 I’ll be giving a talk at the Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent in Canterbury (UK).

Abstract: Marcel Broodthaer’s Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles (1968) confronted the public with an exhibition that criticized traditional museum practices by means of appropriating them. This work was explicitly intended to qualify as both an exhibition and a work of conceptual art. In this talk, I explore the hypothesis that the artwork status of some exhibitions might instead have remained, so far, unnoticed, even by their makers. To illustrate my view, I analyze the exhibition of pre-and proto-historic artifacts at Berlin’s Neues Museum and argue that such exhibition is a work of site-specific installation art.

Here’s the link to their full program:

Palladio Museum, Vicenza, Italy

Monday, 11 March 2019, Eleen Deprez (University of Kent), “What Are Curated Exhibitions? An Ontological Question”


Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

Abstract: In this paper I will raise questions about the nature of curated exhibitions. My focus will be on the ontological entity (the identity question) and the identity conditions (the individuation question) of curated exhibitions. I will consider curated exhibitions as a site-responsive (i.e. not site-specific) display of items, that creates an appreciative context and makes an utterance. An exhibition can move location. Exhibitions travel from one museum to another and the display adapts its arrangement each time. Sometimes, a reinstallation will use exactly the same artworks, reuse plinths, reproduce the wall labels, and try – within the scope of the new space – to rehang the works in the same way. More often than not however, a reinstallation looks very different from the original exhibition. We intuit that curated exhibitions can be repeated with significant noticeable differences to their display, but there seem to be some limits. How much can an exhibition change when it is being reinstalled? Are, with respect to the identity of a curated exhibition, some features more significant or consequential than others? I will argue that curated exhibitions are an ontological hybrid: a combined ontological entity. The hybrid theory maintains that a curated exhibition comprises a concrete site-responsive display of works of art and an abstract curatorial utterance made through that display. We shall see that the answer to the individuation question is that two curated exhibitions are identical if their authored-curatorial utterances have the same illocutionary force and if their display supports that utterance through a similar appreciative context.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).

Talk: “Exhibitions and Museums: When Are They Art?” at the Aesthetics Seminar, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University

Neues Museum, Berlin, copyright: Elisa Caldarola

On February 13th 2019, I will be giving a talk at the Aesthetics Seminar in the Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University, Sweden.

The title of the talk is “Exhibitions and Museums: When Art They Art?”.

Abstract: The claims that certain museum-exhibits and exhibitions are artworks or that they share significant resemblances with artworks are currently circulating in both art-theoretical and philosophical literature (see e.g. Carrier 2006; Hein 2006; Foster 2013; Ventzislavov 2014; Voorhies 2017). In the first part of my talk, I show how recent research on art-kinds and conventions in art-making (Lopes 2008; 2014; Xhignesse 2016; 2019 forthcoming) offers a framework for making sense of such claims. In the second part, I argue that some museum-exhibits and exhibitions are works of installation art.


Carrier, David (2006), Museum Skepticism. A History of The Display of Art in Public Galleries, Duke University Press.

Foster, Hal (2013), The Art-Architecture Complex, Verso.

Hein, Hilde (2006), Public Art. Thinking Museums Differently, Altamira Press.

Lopes, Dominic (2008), “Nobody Needs a Theory of Art”, The Journal of Philosophy, 105(3): 109-27.

Lopes, Dominic (2014), Beyond Art, Oxford University Press.

Ventzislavov, Rossen (2014), “Idle Arts: Reconsidering The Curator”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72: 83-93.

Voorhies, James (2017), Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968, MIT Press.

Xhignesse, Michel (2016), Attempting Art: an Essay on Intention-Dependence, PhD Thesis submitted to McGill University, Montreal.

Xhignesse, Michel (2019), “What Makes a Kind an Art-Kind?”,TheBritish Journal of Aesthetics, forthcoming.