Visiting American Folk Art Museum: “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America” exhibition

These are some random thoughts after visiting the exhibition…

I started exhibition with a sentence “We cannot judge the depth of another’s pain from the remove of centuries.” — this is something I thought at least few times over my life but never expressed out loud. I realized that really, when you think about something that happened at least few hundred years ago, it feels like people should have grieved less or dying would be less painful.
Another thing was smell. I don’t know if it’s a usual museum smell or it was done specifically for exhibition, it scent was like at the funeral. Or even more like in the church, or a sacred place.

And here’s a story that came to my mind when I was looking at some photographs at the exhibition. I always found it really weird to take photos with the dead and it was interesting to realize that during different historic times people used different techniques to commemorate the loved ones who passed away.

When I was a kid, I was terrified of being photographed. Now when I look at the pictures from my childhood of me running and crying just to avoid the camera it makes me smile, but back then it seemed like the end of the world.
My godfather died when I was six or seven year old. It was usual that the last day before the coffin is taken to a cemetery, entire family stands by it and has several photos taken together by a coffin. Back then my family didn’t know that I was terrified of cameras, so when the moment came and I ran away to hide, they took it as a sign of being bored and not respecting the dead…

Response to reading Chapter2 and Chapter3 from Roger Schank’s “Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence”

It’s interesting to read about stories from more scientific view, because when you tell them or hear them you don’t really try to categorize them in your head. I would also disagree that in many cases categorization can be so obvious, because most of the “story making” or responding happens in the subconscious and we cannot really control it. So in many cases analysis is only possible with the perspective to the past (once the story is told), not to the future.

Reading chapter3 was relevant to my thesis research. During research I stumbled upon Constructivist Theory, which says “Everybody already knows something and it influences what we know next.” Something like this is also mentioned here, only with different words and from stories perspective: “Different people understand the same story differently precisely because the stories they already know are different.”
We all interpret and hear information differently because we all have different experiences from the. This leads to different conversations and different responsive memories (just like it happened to few people in the class when we gave intro stories about each other).

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