WAYS OF SEEING: A NEW MUSEUM STORY FOR PLANET EARTH by Grace Ndiritu 4.26.17

As a homage to John Berger’s hugely influential 1972 text Ways of Seeing which introduced the idea of the ‘male gaze’ to the general public and forever changed our understanding of how we should view painting—especially those of the naked female form, by merely not seeing these nude women as objects—I thought it would be good to continue an investigation into the questions raised within my first text Healing The Museum. Thus, it maybe useful to read that text first, before beginning this one here.

For many years I have been disturbed by the limited and polarizing way that the Western mind has separated mind, body and spirit. This dichotomous way of thinking affects everything from the way governmental policy is created, how global markets are managed, peace and security issues, the food we eat at our tables and the way we interact with art. Yet, the urgency of our current ecological crisis means that it should no longer be a question of ‘if’ objects have a soul but what can we do to heal this split in our thinking – preferably before it destroys our environment and our shared—cultural—future.

This Western tendency to see the world as a ‘dead’ place and the Indigenous peoples who use traditional knowledge to communicate with Nature and her objects (natural or man made) as playing make believe; causes us to consume endlessly and pollute carelessly.

If we think Earth is a dead planet, why care for her (it)?

Yet, even today most Non-Western cultures still believe that objects have a soul and this belief is called Animism.

“As we have been born countless times, it follows that we have had countless mothers. Thus there is not a single being we meet who, over the incalculable expanse of beginnings time, has failed to be our mother.” “As we have been born countless times, it follows that we have had countless mothers. Thus there is not a single being we meet who, over the incalculable expanse of beginnings time, has failed to be our mother.” Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

On any given day that you visit the Ancient Egyptian galleries at the British Museum in London, you may not realize that the objects on display are unhappy. They no longer feel special because of the cultural and energetic rape that has been enacted on them through being exposed to the endless photography of mindlessness tourists, and feel objectified in the true sense of the word. These objects were never meant to seen by a single ray of sunlight, never mind millions of keen Museum goers. Hence, they feel they have been robbed of their agency and such have no rights. They want to be free.

How have I come to this controversial conclusion?

By accessing different states of mind and consciousness over the last 35 years.

But before we continue this sensational discussion I think it good to layout my own historical background in dealing with objects.

The full length essay can be read online for free