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Sylvia Cockburn

  • Sylvia CockburnResearch Student
  • Region of Interest Oceania
  • Research Interests Contemporary Pacific art, heritage collections, community engagement, anthropology of museums
  • PhD Thesis Rethinking relationships: museums and contemporary Pacific artists
  • Doctoral Research

    • My project examines the relationships between anthropology, museums and contemporary Pacific artists from the 1990s to the present day. In recent decades, engagement with contemporary artists has become common practice for many museums wanting to address difficult histories and demonstrate progressive practices. Yet while such collaborations have been widely celebrated for their role in reconciliation, and the decolonisation of museum collections, the specific motivations and outcomes for the multiple actors involved is yet to be comprehensively and critically examined. My PhD investigates what exactly contemporary art does within museum settings, as well as the networks and other influences that are driving collaborative projects.
      Through interviews with artists, curators and other museum professionals, my project analyses collaborations from multiple perspectives in order to understand why museums choose to work with artists, and why artists engage with museums and heritage collections. The project addresses debates currently taking place about the role and future of anthropology museums, community access and the democratisation of museum collections.
  • Education

    • 2014: MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Sainsbury Research Unit
      2012: BA (Hons) Art History and Curatorship, Australian National University
      2011: BSc Ecology and Evolution, Australian National University