Traveling exhibitions in the field
settlements, war-economy, and the collaborative practice of seeing, 1919–1925
Over more than four decades, the Austrian economist, sociologist, and philosopher, Otto Neurath made unique contributions to the fields of museology and curation, which culminated in the founding of the Social and Economic Museum of Vienna and its mobile exhibitions in the 1920s. But until today, Neurath's involvement in the organization of portable "field exhibitions," which predated those at the Social and Economic Museum by at least half a decade remains understudied. In this essay, I argue that field exhibitions, which were informed by Neurath's theories on war economy, are instructive in analyzing his overall curatorial ideas. Staged on the outskirts of the city in collaboration with allotment garden and settlement cooperatives, these exhibitions utilized plans and diagrams to convey social and political statements of facts through pictorial statistics and everyday objects. By pairing abstract graphic information with commonplace objects, they invited inhabitants into a conversation about the material world as well as the future by drawing on personal experience. As such, these field exhibitions created a communal environment for viewing and debating information and championed what I call "a collaborative practice of seeing."
Hochhäusl, S. (2019)., Traveling exhibitions in the field: settlements, war-economy, and the collaborative practice of seeing, 1919–1925, in J. Cat & A. Tuboly (eds.), Neurath reconsidered, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 141-176.
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