Lisl Ponger

Charim Galerie

For the Dak’Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art 2004, Austrian artist Lisl Ponger hoped to photograph selections from the famous ethnographic collection of Dakar’s Musée d’Art Africain. As she waited for permission from the museum, she started a series of photographs in her hotel room; when the official okay never came, these works became her biennial contribution. Si j’avais eu l’autorisation . . . (If I Had Had Authorization . . .)—thus ran the project’s subjunctive title—then she wouldn’t have stayed in her room photographing props from her own personal archive of materials relating to the themes of colonialism, globalization, and travel. She grouped these items on the tile mosaic of the hotel floor according to classificatory patterns: ethnologist, painter, photographer, tourist. Although this was not the project that Ponger originally planned, it hews closely to her interests.

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