Chiara Tartarini

Admonitor, or the beholder’s share

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For many decades now the public’s role has been the focus of museum practices. This article, from the perspective of museum studies, interprets the audience-centered dimension through some examples demonstrating the integration of the spectator in the museum space, i.e. his/her involvement in the «museum experience». Alongside painting and literature, photography has been central (from Aguado to Draschan, via de Andrade, Erwitt or Struth) and, as a solemnization technique, it has literally made the public, individually or in groups, at the center of the «artwork». In this sense the camera embodies a version of the Albertian admonitor (theoretical figure metaphorizing the reception within the reception of the artwork) to whose role the spectator, internal figure in the picture or, more prosaically, prosumer, can or should also aspire if he/she really wants to have a voice and contribute to the constructivist museum. Moreover, the photographs taken by the visitors themselves, understood as a current version of the Riegl-Gombrichian «beholder’s share», represent an index of contemporary spectatorial values, and of the shift from authoritative interpretation to active participation in museum practices. The text, therefore, offers a critical perspective and contextualization to the following account by Roberto Cotroneo, and places it in a broader tradition and within current museum practices


  • museum studies
  • photography
  • museum experience
  • admonitor
  • beholder’
  • s share


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