In February 2017, the Stedelijk Museum, together with the Moderna Museet, Museum Tinguely and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, organized a symposium called Lose Yourself! Symposium on Labyrinthine Exhibitions as Curatorial Model. Starting point were Dylaby (1962) in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and HON – en katedral (1966) in Stockholm’s Moderna Museet; both are remarkable exhibitions in the history of curating. Walking into a large vagina, shooting paint, gazing at the stars in a planetarium, dancing the twist, plowing a path through a room filled with balloons: the exhibitions might easily be considered more as theme park attractions than serious art shows, comprising theatrical props instead of works of art. At first glance, these two exhibition “aberrations,” resulting from the close collaboration of museum directors Willem Sandberg (Dylaby) and Pontus Hultén (HON), as well as artists Martial Raysse, Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and Per-Olof Ultvedt, seem to defy serious analysis, let alone contribute to the critical discourse of contemporary exhibition history.
However, these large-scale, collaborative and comprehensive exhibition installations have attracted both the expanding academic field of exhibition history and current curatorial practices. But how are we to understand the body of knowledge produced by a generation of historically conscious, self-reflexive curators and art historians alike? What (critical) models do exhibitions such as Dylaby and HON provide for contemporary curatorial, artistic, and scholarly practices?
During the symposium, a selection of key experts in the field have addressed these questions and framed them in the wider context of the naissance of the modern and contemporary art museum and the role models of Pontus Hultén and Willem Sandberg, our continuous engagement with the art production of the 1960s, the place of these exhibitions in the wider artistic oeuvres of the participating artists, post-1960s “labyrinthine” exhibition practices at large, and the growing discipline of exhibition history.
For this themed issue of Stedelijk Studies the editors have invited several authors, who spoke at the conference, to submit a written contribution. In addition to these essays, interviews will be included and the video registration of the symposium will be made accessible. The issue has room for 4 additional essays. The editors particularly look forward to receiving abstracts on the topic of the labyrinthine model from a global perspective.