Balkanising Taxonomy - A symposium & an exhibition supported by the Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles and Graduate School, Goldsmiths, University of London
Date: Saturday 15th November 2008, 10 am – 5.30 pm
Venue: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 309, Goldsmiths

The symposium/exhibition aimed to interrogate notions of Balkan identity, and trouble the impulse to create a stable taxonomic account of the Eastern European subject. Through the construction of protective preservation chambers (light-safe boxes sewn out of black felt), fetishized Balkan could only be encountered through a small peephole. Also, photographs of Balkan people were placed in glass jars, to ensure that they are not physically handled by the viewing public. The voyeuristic impulse hidden behind the project of preservation was exposed, where the boxes and jars claim to protect the objects from light and decay, but instead contribute to widening the gap between the (Western) self and (Balkan) other.
The labels which accompanied the garments and photographs contained a mixture of factual and imagined information, once more calling into question the taxonomic urge, and highlighting the problematic process at work behind studying and representing the other. Through the methods of conservation employed in this project, which intensify the relationship between the merging of scientific and absurd classification practices, the curator hoped to contribute visually to the already vast field of study which questions the space from which the Balkan subject is formed.

Balkanising Taxonomy