Questionable History: Contesting Interpretations

The Wende Museum
The Armory, Culver City, California
October 25, 2020 - April 25, 2021

In addition to art and artifacts, museums present knowledge, aiming to simultaneously educate and entertain the public. But where do museums get their information from? And how do they turn historical facts into an exhibition narrative? Usually, museum exhibitions offer a single point of view, neatly printed on the text label, or “tombstone,” next to an artwork or object. As a result, most visitors are not aware of the discussions, disputes, fights, and feuds behind even the simplest sign. In this exhibition, we leave the traditional single-perspective approach behind and allow a behind-the-scenes peek into the sometimes chaotic and overheated debates of historians and art historians by presenting different, contradictory interpretations of the same work. Traversing the minefield of postmodern relativism, on the one hand, and “alternative facts,” on the other, this exhibition explores how “facts” are constructed while aiming to restore the arena for informed interpretation and conversation.