Transdisciplinary translations in the art museum - The exhibition "The Blind Spot" at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany
(Ethnologisches Museum Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
This paper takes the exhibition "The Blind Spot" (2017) at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, as a starting point to discuss the potentials and challenges of transdisciplinary curatorship at the intersection of anthropology, art history and postcolonial theory.
Paper long abstract:
What are the potentials and challenges of transdisciplinary curatorship? What kind of new methodologies and collaborative approaches can we develop at the intersection of anthropology and art history? In this paper I take my own curatorial practice as an anthropologist in an art museum, i.e. the exhibition "The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art" (2017) at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, as a starting point to address these questions from a postcolonial perspective. The exhibition looked at colonial trade and patronage as well as histories of collecting and display and brought the European artworks of the Kunsthalle's collection in dialogue with historical and contemporary art from Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific. The exhibition sought to translate postcolonial imperatives such as the analysis of historical and contemporary power relations and the politics of aesthetics and gaze into a sensible and sensitive museum space. It also sought to create a space for various, sometimes even contradictory voices and perspectives, inviting students from the University of Bremen and members of the Africa Network Bremen to share their expertise on the colonial past and the postcolonial present. Hence, it employed and adapted various methodologies which had been developed in ethnographic museum settings, such as the "sharing of collections" (Buijs et al. 2010), as well as by postcolonial activists and academics. This paper discusses the potentials and challenges of mediating and translating these different perspectives, histories and disciplines. It furthermore discusses the ways in which visitors engaged with and challenged these translations.
Anthropology in the Art Museum