Sam McGinnis

Trans Visual Archives and the Pop-Up Museum

In recent decades, pop-up museums have been the site of both radical trans critique and the emergence of a highly commodified “selfie museum.” What is it about the pop-up— an ephemeral, shape-shifting installation of objects and artworks— that allows it to be harnessed by both trans activists/archivists and for-profit corporate sponsors? Why do these queered reimaginings occur in a historical moment saturated with neoliberal museum policies and increasing state surveillance of bodies? To examine these questions, I will utilise three key case studies of trans-led pop-ups from various colonial contexts, engage debates around gender and decolonization, and pose an anti-capitalist critique of the culture industry. SURF will allow me to develop a robust theoretical framework for a senior thesis by working through a reading list in three major phases: museology and the pop-up, contemporary trans studies, and trans-led pop-up museums in the US and Perú. Additionally, I will immerse myself in French language scholarship in order to determine a third case study from a French post-colonial context.

Message to Sponsor

I greatly appreciate the support provided by the Anselm fund. It is incredibly important to affirm not only the value of undergraduate research, but to recognize that student researchers deserve compensation for their intellectual labor. By supporting this program, you’ve allowed many students like myself to dedicate an entire summer to self-guided research, which will undoubtedly shape our academic careers as we move forward into graduate work.
  • Major: Art History, Comparative Literature
  • Sponsor: Anselm Fund
  • Mentor: Anneka Lenssen