• Colin Sterling

Spaces of Experience: Curatorial Experiments Beyond the Immersive Economy

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

Talk at the workshop 'Sites of Cultural Agency: Creative Knowledge Production in the Arts and Humanities', British School at Rome, 17-18 October 2019


This paper aims to critique the economic and social imperatives intrinsic to the notion of experience emerging across the heritage sector. Drawing on a wide range of literature and empirical examples, I map out three distinct analytical categories where the notion of experience takes on particular significance for the conceptualisation and practice of heritage. These categories encompass tangible and intangible dimensions of everyday life, the production and performance of specific exhibitions, events, and activities, and the empathetic identification with experiences – both human and non-human, historical and contemporary – that are not our own. Although always overlapping in reality, separating these domains allows us to see how heritage emerges from and feeds back into multiple levels of spatial, temporal, and ontological experience. By unpacking the very notion of experience as it relates to heritage as an industry, a process, and a mode of being, I aim to highlight specific points of intervention where new forms of critical-creative practice might open up the field to alternative experiential strategies and outcomes beyond ‘the immersive economy’. The curatorial is highlighted here as a particularly valuable nodal point for such work, being both a conduit for authority and agency, as well as a site of economic production and political contestation.

This workshop is part of the Interdisciplinary Italy project.

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