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Eurydice Antzoulatou-Retsila

Exhibiting the intangible. An example from Corfu.

Retsila, Eurydice: "Exhibiting the intangible. An example from Corfu", 16th International Congress on Dance Research, Corfu, Greece, 30/10-3/11, 2002.

  1. In our times the content of cultural heritage has been enriched, embracing both the notion of “tangible" and “intangible”. Under this perspective, sites, monuments, objects, flora and fauna, natural and built environment as well as languages, oral literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, constitute forms of heritage.

2. The field of tangible heritage has been widely served by the world of museums, mainly through the functions of collecting, conserving and exhibiting.

3. Exhibitions are powerful means of communication and if properly planned, designed and structured, they provide a tremendous impact upon their visitors, in terms of information, entertainment, involvement or accountability.

4.   Exhibiting the tangible has been a main preoccupation in the long history of cultural promotion activity, with important examples of various approaches and achievements. Yet, the challenge of exhibiting the intangible, although very demanding as conception and process, it can be intellectually more rewarding, because it can attain the ideal of living experience, by applying some unconventional solutions.

5. This goal was achieved in the exhibition “Corfu Pageant” presented in 1992 by the Municipality of Corfu in association with the Corfu Dance Theatre. The exhibition presented some of the cultural expressions of the Corfiot people, particularly those manifested in dance, music and costume.

6. The planning of the exhibition - developed by the author of this paper - had adopted a “stage-design” approach, which offered the visitors the possibility to experience a sense of participation. Through the appropriate structures, the exhibition content was perceived by visitors as a “time-space stage-set” in which the intangible, i.e. dance and music, were developed through certain tangible means. In this way captivated dancing moments from various choreographies, inspired from local legend, tradition and folk tales were presented as “tableaux vivants” through the means of costumed museum mannequins and were also interwoven with the unfolding of living dance performances. In this way the selected dancing events were presented both through the lens of Musealisierung and in the context of living performing arts.          

7. The success of this project proved that such a sophisticated approach to the problem of exhibiting the intangible could provide more exciting spectacles, rich in experiences.

The author

Eurydice Antzoulatou-Retsila, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the IonianUniversity, Corfu. She had been for several years Curator at the Museum of Greek Folk Art in Athens (Ministry of Culture). She has carried out teaching tasks at universities in Greece, USA, Australia and Italy and she has conducted research projects in Greece, France, USA and Australia. She has organized exhibitions and museums and has planned educational cultural activities in Greece, Italy, USA, Australia.

Eurydice Antzoulatou-Retsila, Ph.D.

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