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Curating Hatred: The Joe McWilliams's Controversy at the Ulster Museum

Maguire, Tom (2017) Curating Hatred: The Joe McWilliams's Controversy at the Ulster Museum. Journal of Hate Studies, 13 (1). pp. 61-83. [Journal article]

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Since heritage is a manifestation of how the past is used in the present, engagement with heritage is a critical indicator of how contemporary hatreds play out, both feeding and feeding off traditions and legacies. Despite its ongoing peace process, Northern Ireland remains a site of dissonant heritages, where sectarian hatred continues to be expressed in societal divisions, often resulting in outright violence. This relationship between current expressions of hatred and the uses of the past present particular issues for heritage professionals. This essay examines a recent example in which these tensions have been made manifest, the inclusion of a painting by Belfast artist Joe McWilliams in the Annual Exhibition by the Royal Ulster Academy at the Ulster Museum in 2015. The painting depicts the performance by a Protestant Orange Order band outside a Roman Catholic Church in Belfast as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations. It included a small group of figures wearing white hoods, akin to the Klu Klux Klan’s, and Orange sashes. The controversy that the inclusion of this painting in the exhibition sparked illustrates the ways in which the artistic representation of a performed heritage challenges institutional practice in curating dissonance.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:Heritage, museums, Ulster, dissonance, curatorship, hatred, offence
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Arts > School of Creative Arts and Technologies
Research Institutes and Groups:Arts and Humanities Research Institute
Arts and Humanities Research Institute > Creative Arts and Technologies
ID Code:36927
Deposited By: Dr Thomas Maguire
Deposited On:07 Mar 2017 09:25
Last Modified:03 Jul 2017 11:21

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