The Imaginary Museum

When Krijn de Koning had an exhibition at the Musée des Moulages in Lyon, I wrote an essay for an accompanying publication that never saw the light of day. Now Bart van der Heide of the Kunstverein München has used this text, "The Imaginary Museum of Plaster Casts," as a point of reference for his show The Imaginary Museum, which opens on 14 July. Before the war, Munich's collection of plaster casts after antique statues used to be on display in the spaces along the Hofgarten that now house the Kunstverein; Bart is reconstructing one of these spaces and combines the casts with photo and video works by contemporary arists.

My essay relates the phenomenon of the plaster cast collection to Malraux's notion of the musée imaginaire constituted by photography (Malraux himself already made this comparison, but I develop the point). I reworked the text substantially for the Kunstverein's newsletter, including a discussion of artistic practices that were absent from the original version, such as Arnoud Holleman and Gert Jan Kocken's, as well as Sean Snyder's Index project; the latter is also featured in the exhibition. In some ways, the essay is a pendant of the "Viewing Copies" article, and both are part of the research project on objecthood and thingness on which I will hopefully be able to focus a bit more in the coming year(s), once my upcoming book History in Motion is out of the way.