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Reading: Curating Hatred: The Joe McWilliams's Controversy at the Ulster Museum

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Curating Hatred: The Joe McWilliams's Controversy at the Ulster Museum

Author:

Tom Maguire

Ulster University, IE
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Abstract

Since heritage is a manifestation of how the past is used in the present,
engagement with heritage is a critical indicator of how contemporary
hatreds play out, both feeding and feeding off traditions and legacies.
Despite its ongoing peace process, Northern Ireland remains a site of dissonant
heritages, where sectarian hatred continues to be expressed in societal
divisions, often resulting in outright violence. This relationship between
current expressions of hatred and the uses of the past present particular
issues for heritage professionals. This essay examines a recent example in
which these tensions have been made manifest, the inclusion of a painting
by Belfast artist Joe McWilliams in the Annual Exhibition by the Royal
Ulster Academy at the Ulster Museum in 2015. The painting depicts the
performance by a Protestant Orange Order band outside a Roman Catholic
Church in Belfast as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations. It
included a small group of figures wearing white hoods, akin to the Klu
Klux Klan’s, and Orange sashes. The controversy that the inclusion of this
painting in the exhibition sparked illustrates the ways in which the artistic
representation of a performed heritage challenges institutional practice in
curating dissonance.

How to Cite: Maguire, T., 2016. Curating Hatred: The Joe McWilliams's Controversy at the Ulster Museum. Journal of Hate Studies, 13(1). DOI: http://doi.org/10.33972/jhs.134
Published on 01 Jan 2016.

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