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In the last years mass tourism has become, alongside with previous forms constituting ‘exhibitionary complex’ (Bennett 2004), an element affecting the formation of cultural institutions. My analysis derives from material foundations, namely specific and comparable post-military objects and territories in Poland and Latvia. The common denominator of the post-military territories presented in the text is the fact that all of them have become a peculiar ‘exhibitionary arena’. I attempt to demonstrate that post-military territories which bear resemblance with respect to former functions and infrastructure, i.e. size and passage of time since their establishment, condition and substantiality, are currently going through various processes of transformation. Within these processes they have been ascribed with different values which are created by practices (including, among others, ‘spatial stories’) transforming sites into ‘exhibitionary arenas’. I supplement institutional forms related to ‘exhibitionary complex’ – e.g. museums, galleries, panoptica, world exhibitions – with contemporary tourist practices which transform the forms established by more traditional exhibiting institutions. The present analysis is based on four examples of grand post-military objects (established in 19th and 20th century) transformed with the use of diverse techniques and now serving functions of non-military character. While comparing former post-military objects and territories ( three of them were used as bases of the Soviet Army during the Cold war period) I demonstrate how these sites became transformed into ‘exibitionary arenas’ of different types. Significantly, this process has been occurring during the ‘participatory turn’ period and increasing amounts of tourists (‘overtourism’), who tend to identify and even establish new tourist destinations and places ‘worth visiting’.


exhibition, exhibitionary complex, experience, Latvia, participatory turn, Poland, post-military base, spatial stories, tourism

Article Text


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