Perception of an object is subjective, dictated by the entity in power. Throughout history, the ability to guide interactions with the works of marginalized communities has been removed from the creators by force. Our understanding of these works is then filtered through a lens of subjugation, removing or altering aspects of the original context that gives significant meaning. The effects of this power imbalance are seen both in how these objects are displayed and in the structures in which they are housed.
Specular Reclamation responds to the Penn Museum’s role in this object-viewer relationship through the curation of distinct viewing experiences. Views through the façade refract, obscure, or reflect details which have previously been overlooked or misunderstood. At every angle, some level of contextual clarity is removed, causing moments of closer examination, where what is seen is not what exists. These viewing conditions work with the placement of the programs to push the viewer to interrogate how they see the museum’s displays, the surrounding environment, and themselves as patrons of the museum.