The Museum Within Us
: Exposing artist-led curatorial strategies in an expanded practice

  • Edwin Janssen

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The Museum Within Us Exposing artist-led curatorial strategies in an expanded practice. Nowadays curatorial practice is a key component of the artist’s toolkit. Over the last decades artists have developed a wide range of curatorial modes that involve the creation or representation of archives and collections, interventions in museums and galleries and devising programmes of discursive events. Driven by my love for museums and displays I conceived a research project, The Museum Within Us with the intention to offer some new insights into the different curatorial strategies artists use as part of their creative processes. Using reproduction and montage, and referencing as key components, The Museum Within Us reveals the workings of my shared art practice against the backdrop of how artists utilise the functions of museums and take up the role of collector or archivist. Through the use of production, reflection and contextualisation The Museum Within Us aims to give insights in the history of my individual art practice and in particular the role of collecting, curating and display in my collaborative, dialogical and socially engaged art practice with Tracy Mackenna. As Tracy Mackenna & Edwin Janssen we have produced a variety of exhibition projects that have taken the museum as a starting point often creating or representing public or private collections, and using a variety of media. This art practice is an on-going and cumulative activity, a never-ending process of shared sowing, growing, harvesting, cooking, eating and digesting. To shape The Museum Within Us I adopted the structure of a portable museum with five rooms and a library, accompanied by five guidebooks that contain the written component of my investigation. Each room is designed in the form of a box and contains a curated selection of the in total 206 digital prints (277 x 390 mm each, and comes with a guidebook. The collection of images that make up The Museum Within Us give an insight in a wide range of artistic and theoretical issues that have played a pivotal role in the development of my individual and shared art practice. The library box contains publications about my individual and collaborative practice. As the visitor of the museum you are invited to activate this collection of photographic images. The composition of The Museum Within Us stimulates a personal engagement with the visual material through handling, looking and ‘reading’. The five accompanying books offer a linear route but the public should feel free to wander of on their own accord. The narrative that accompanies the digital prints resists the overly objectifying and distancing style of academic writing and could be described as revelatory and reflective non-fictional writing. The visual, as the primary language, and the textual, as the secondary language, are used here to document the research process. This recording of my past practice is the result of an impulse to archive and to recollect what I deem important and was inspired by a desire to open the museum within me.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMurdo Macdonald (Supervisor) & Graham Fagen (Supervisor)


  • Contemporary Art
  • Curatorial Practice
  • Art History
  • Practice-led

Cite this