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New CosmopolitanismsSouth Asians in the US$
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Gita Rajan and Shailja Sharma

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780804752800

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804752800.001.0001

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Identity and Visibility: Reflections on Museum Displays of South Asian Art

Identity and Visibility: Reflections on Museum Displays of South Asian Art

(p.71) Chapter Three Identity and Visibility: Reflections on Museum Displays of South Asian Art
New Cosmopolitanisms
Vidya Dehejia
Stanford University Press

This chapter explores the layered status and reception of South Asian art in US culture. It begins by setting the context for museum displays, explaining both the strategies used in exhibiting cultures and the power-play that museum organizers engage in, to suggest that what the public sees is not “just art” but the careful showcasing and eliciting of aesthetic responses by “mediating between art and the visitor.” Next, using three different exhibitions curated by the Sackler Gallery—“Devi The Great Goddess,” “India Through the Lens,” and the “Chola Bronzes”—the chapter explains how the author's Asian Americanness, that is, “the politics of her own identity as an insider-outsider, an individual with a hyphenated status, and a woman” coincided with the planning and curating of the exhibitions. “Devi,” in particular, was executed as an interactive exhibition that made concrete numerous aspects of Hindu culture as the materiality of many South Asian homes in the United States.

Keywords:   South Asian art, museum exhibits, aesthetic responses, Hindu culture

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