This paper investigates the representation of Wales as a theme country at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington DC in June/July 2009. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, is a two week event visited by over a million people, and is curated by one of the largest museum institutions in the world. How Wales was represented in 2009 was an interesting process. Eager to exercise a kind of ‘cultural democracy’ the curators immersed themselves in Welsh culture in order to find those contemporary living cultural traditions that stem from community as a form of continuous or re-defined tradition of folk life. This paper examines those elements chosen to represent the contemporary living culture of Wales, and questions and analyses the ways in which these elements were ‘curated’, and subsequently, how they were ‘performed’ on the Mall. For the purposes of this paper the performative aspects of the festival includes the festival site, its spatial orientation and plan; all site installations and interpretive building activities (such as the dry stone walling, the ‘ty unnos’); general interpretations, such as spinning/weaving, bread making, coracle making; and more immediately recognisable performative activities such as storytelling, singing, poetry reading, and theatrical performance. My own work as invited scholar in 2008 and a festival presenter in 2009 has a direct bearing on the investigation.
|Published - Jul 2010
|North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History (NAASWCH) conference, Marymount University, Virginia, USA, 2010 - Marymount University, Arlington / Washington D.C., United States
Duration: 22 Jul 2010 → 24 Jul 2010
|North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History (NAASWCH) conference, Marymount University, Virginia, USA, 2010
|Arlington / Washington D.C.
|22/07/10 → 24/07/10
- smithsonian folklife festival