71. Assessing Curatorial Work for Social Justice With Elena Gonzales
Welcome to Museum Archipelago I'm Elsner appease Eum archipelago guides you through the rocky landscape of museums each So he's never longer than fifteen minutes so let's get started. The American Alliance of museums often says that museums are the most trustworthy institute has rates trust in other institutions plummet the government the news media excetera museum still enjoy a privileged position in our collective consciousness it's something I've no this over the past few years even non museum spaces try to adopt museum like presentations to apply the veneer of trustworthiness but it's also uneasy set of statistics is it possible that the reason museums are so trustworthy because they have an excellent at towing the status quo the party line and who's public con justness our museums enjoying a privileged position side of anyway that's why I was thrilled to come across the book exhibitions for Social Justice by Elena Gonzales during a recent museum binge the book presents the current state of museum practice as it relates to the work of social justice but it's also a guide map for anyone Interested in the way forward I think if a lot of people fully understood how museum work is done they might actually not trust us so much because they would understand the subject activity but I think the more that we are transparent about museums content who creates it what the goals of an exhibition are etc.. The MORE PEOPLE CAN Trust US authentically and rightfully I'm joined today by Elena Gonzales Hello My name is Elena Gonzales and I'm the author of exhibitions for Social Justice which is newly out for museum meanings at Rutledge I am an independent curator and scholar in the Chicago area and I'm also co chair of the Exhibitions Committee at the Evanston Art Center we curate twenty to thirty exhibitions a year in exhibitions for Social Justice Gonzales lays out some of the ways that in itution can use the overwhelming uneasy trust capital built up over centuries museums have a centuries long history of supporting and white supremacist colonialist racist ideologies and helping them flourish and providing the evidence for them and under girding them and it is museums ethical and moral obligation now to not only dismantle that through declawing practices but also to make themselves into pro social inclusive institutions that are actively working for social justice kansallis believes that museums have the power to help our societies become more hospitable equitable and sustainable and the book presents a survey of specific museums and exhibitions that have read their goals clear people asked me what counts as an exhibition for Social Justice and I think people you know they immediately snap to museums and exhibitions that deal with mass violence that deal with redress of major wrongs like genocides your Holocaust museums your memorial Ziems that type of thing and when they ask this question I say what I think is the the most readily accessible definition for social does which is that social justice is the equitable distribution of risks and rewards in society and then I say that there are so many different areas that this touches in terms of content beyond memorial museums beyond holcombes museums and that's not to minimize the work of those institutions those are critical institute nations and holding those memories is very very important and sites of conscience are very important to my work in general but there are many topics anywhere rain aging from equity in education equity in health care environmental justice gender equity any kind of moment where a culturally specific group is gaining access to historical voice or contemporary voice in the public sphere there just many different entry points to this topic one of the main ideas of the book is that the work of social justice must be institution wide not just the work of one curator Gonzales writes about the experience of her first curatorial effort at the National Museum of Mexican art and M. A. in Chicago and MMA is a culturally specific for voice museum dedicated serving its local Mexican community it was a really big project for us it's called the African presence in Mahyco and the main exhibition was called the African presence in Mahyco from Yanga to the present I curated a second exhibition which was about the relationships between African Americans and Mexicans in the United States and relationships between African Americans and the country of Mexico and that was called who are we now roots resistance in recognition all staff meeting shortly before the opening of the project act the president of the museum reiterated the goal of solidarity to the entire staff of the museum if the museum did everything right.