Critics’ Picks

View of “Object Atlas,” 2012.

View of “Object Atlas,” 2012.


“Object Atlas”

Weltkulturen Museum
Schaumainkai 29-37
January 25–September 16, 2012

For “Object Atlas,” the first exhibition following this ethnographic museum’s redesign, director Clémentine Deliss invited seven Europe-based artists for residencies in the institution’s research laboratory, the Labor. Each was encouraged to create new work based on the museum’s collections and archives, with all fieldwork and research occurring within the museum itself, an assignment that privileged tactility and proximity.

The resulting works have been displayed in the museum alongside the WeltKulturen objects or artworks on which they were based. The presentation is highly designed and whitewashed, stripped down to the dialogues between these new productions and their influences. Hinting at the ridicule of contemporary road systems and travel, Trap for Stupid Cars, 2011, is one of Thomas Bayrle’s sculptural reactions to Pacific Ocean weaving. Documentation of his father Alf’s expedition to Ethiopia with Leo Frobenius in the 1930s is also on view. Likewise, Otobong Nkanga focuses on the forms, usage, and value of West African jewelry and weapons, designing woven tapestries (produced in Belgium) as well as posters (printed in Nigeria) and specially dedicating each to the museum. This project, by highlighting ways in which the past is contained in the present and by consistently linking international artifacts to local cultural production, boldly sets the tone for remediating ethnographic collections.