The Living Gallery is an interdisciplinary exhibition space for field artefacts created collaboratively by Concordia’s Ethnography Lab. By pushing the boundaries of traditional fieldnotes, the gallery recognizes new forms of field data or modes of conveying experiences. Importantly, this entails taking seriously the multiple sensitivities that constitute the lived experiences of people and collectivities, including touch, texture sound and sight. It also values critical and collaborative research methods such as creative reuse and collective-making projects. The gallery does not end at the edges of the curated artefacts.
Typically, the word ‘gallery’ refers to a space, even an online space that carries with it sets of expectations around viewing and display, but here we wish to trouble conventional assumptions around these ‘spaces’ and imagine something otherwise. Perhaps ‘gallery’ is not the best word here, and as we proceed we continue to play with this notion and how best to express it.
With that, we are re-conceiving the concept of ‘gallery,’ expanding it from a space of distanced gazing (Rowlands 2006) to an interactive immersive space generated and constituted by our independent and collaborative work. Continuing the reflexive critique of ethnography’s tenuous history with curation (Morphy and Perkins 2006), new concepts and practices of the ‘gallery’ emerge by incorporating in its scope our embodied processes of research and reciprocal attention. This process generates new relationships with artefacts, spaces and individuals in our ethnographic research, which become lively presences embedded in an ethos of care. The gallery is didactic, social, and a dynamic part of the lab’s ecology.