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06/16/2012

Historical Misrepresentation

Yesterday morning, we went to the Ulster Museum at Queen’s University, Belfast, to see the exhibition on The Troubles. The exhibit itself was displayed in a fairly striking way – many of the main events of the time were highlighted with pictures and descriptions on the side of gray house-like structures (which I was told were designed to parallel the cultural of murals painted on the side of houses in Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole). What seemed noteworthy, however, was not how these events were presented physically, but the language with which each was described. At the museum more than anywhere else we visited, it seemed as though history was lost for the sake of providing a neutral telling of events that are still very much contested (which, I was told, was the goal of the installation).

 Such an idea of a contested history leading to an almost watered-down look at the situation got me thinking: how is this done in other, subtler, ways throughout historical representation? Where have I missed it in my previous studies? Obviously we’ve been talking a lot about The Troubles and the varying viewpoints of its events, so I was more receptive to the idea that it was presented with a slanted view when Ray brought it up. This week, however, has made it clear that different representations of the same events can more or less change history. It really adds a new dimension to my understanding of the larger study of history - extending well past what I've learned since we began just a 6 days ago.

 

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he exhibit itself was displayed in a fairly striking way – many of the main events of the time were highlighted with pictures and descriptions on the side of gray house-like structures

Historical misrepresentation is not a taboo case these days as more and more people now have lots of forward-thinking ideas. This is especially true in art exhibitions. This only calls for proper know-how of the history of certain exhibit so as not to be deceived.

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