Access and Preservation in the Digital Age: The Case of Dumile Feni’s Scroll

Access and Preservation in the Digital Age: The Case of Dumile Feni’s Scroll

Grant Jurius, Remembered and Forgotten (2020). Digital drawing, 33.86 x 25.4 cm (courtesy of the artist)

Today, museums around the world face long-standing issues of access, representation, and inclusivity. Although many look to open their doors to broader audiences, to reap the presumed benefits of the digital sphere, and to expand their collections to embrace a plurality of perspectives, far less attention has been paid to how institutions include and represent artists. This article highlights how the drive for accessibility, an espousal of the promise of new technologies, and the need to preserve artworks might motivate curatorial choices that strip them of their material and contextual idiosyncrasies. It focuses on a scroll created by the artist Dumile Feni, and its exhibition and digitization for Activate/Captivate (2016) at Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg.