Boundary Objects

Boundary Objects

Kunsthaus Dresden Municipal Gallery of Contemporary Art

Lisl Ponger, Western Still Life, 2013. C-print, 150 x 126 cm. Courtesy of Gallery Charim Vienna.

June 12, 2015

Boundary Objects
June 20–September  20, 2015

Opening: Friday, June 19, 7pm

Kunsthaus Dresden – Municipal Gallery for Contemporary Art
Rähnitzgasse 8
01097 Dresden

T +49 351 804 14 56
kunsthaus [​at​]

Boundary Objects 
Kader Attia (Berlin/Algiers), Burning Museum (Cape Town), Sammy Baloji (Lubumbashi/Brussels), Peju Layiwola (Lagos), Michelle Monareng (Johannesburg), Paulo Nazareth (Belo Horizonte), Lisl Ponger (Vienna), Jorge Satorre (Mexico City/Barcelona), Penny Siopis (Cape Town), Dierk Schmidt (Berlin), Karl Waldmann (†), Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (London/Innsbruck/Kampala)

Curated by Sophie Goltz (Hamburg/Berlin)

The showcases of the Ethnological Museum are shattered. Current debates in discourse among museums and in contemporary art are focusing on the future of European and African collections whose historical origins are directly tied to colonial geographies and ethnographies. In the light of the historical situation—the racist practice of human zoos, colonial exhibitions, medical-historical collections to classify humans, and one of the most extensive ethnological collections in Europe—questions related to restitution, the treatment of human remains and cultural heritage are attaining significance also for Dresden and Saxony. With the exhibition Boundary Objects, the research and exhibition project Künstliche Tatsachen (Artificial Facts) (2014/2015) opens its third and final station in Dresden, following Cape Town and Porto-Novo, Benin. Works by international artists, partly created especially for the exhibition, pose a challenge to the visual colonization of the museal gaze, examining established visual regimes and calling the gestures of displays and representation—and ultimately the construction of the “other” in the museum—into question. The artists are interested in the future status of objects that were once collected as pieces of cultural-historical evidence, as souvenirs and trophies, and are today increasingly attributed to a globalized World Art. The showcases once used to display artefacts are now being replaced by spotlights and pedestals. Applying the term “Boundary Objects,” the exhibition focuses on the potential of objects to transcend established contexts and meanings: As opponents of their own history, the objects become mediators for larger contexts of a shared commemoration of the violence of unethical collecting, which filled the European museums of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and for the creation of new, transcultural narrations.

Art & Jack-In-The-Box
June 20, 10:30am–10pm  
Place: HfBK Dresden (Academy of Fine Arts), Brühlsche Terrasse 1, Aktsaal 
An activation in the framework of the project Künstliche Tatsachen (Artificial Facts) produced by
Artefakte//aktivierung (Brigitta Kuster, Regina Sarreiter, Dierk Schmidt)

With contributions by Burning Museum, Bettina Uppenkamp, Artefakte//aktivierung (Brigitta Kuster, Regina Sarreiter, Dierk Schmidt), Susanne Leeb, Didier Houénoudé, DRESDENpostkolonial, Lisl Ponger, Anke Scharrahs, Dierk Schmidt, Elsa de Seynes, Tobias Mörike & DJ Enoka Ayemba

Let’s assume examining the question of art would no longer make any sense, either from the perspective of culture or art’s adjectival differentiations (as for instance “African art” or “contemporary art”), but rather from the perspective of an old, quirky and disturbing companion, who has been known to deceive tradesmen by substituting a box full of money with an empty one: Jack-in-the-box. He is likely to be traced back to ancient times, but no one knows for certain. What is for certain, though, is the surprise the whole thing holds: Jack inside the box, a trickster, a toy, a symbol, a piece of merchandise, a marvel, a commodity—a small figure that is always kept inside; a Jack who turns into a stereotype: He becomes a distorted average-personality type, exposed to the play of light and darkness, inner and outer worlds alongside his companions Sambo, Nat, Jezebel, and Mammy, whose characters were based upon a system that denied the personal status of human property in an area where it was forbidden to look. He was not born with the name of Henry but was simply called so, as he was born a slave in the 19th century. He acquired fame under the name of Henry Box Brown in allusion to the wooden box in which he transported himself into freedom. Boxing for dissidence. At a later stage, when the mirror of representation was splintered, Jack-in-the-box was accompanied by the uncanny and terrifying din of his own emptiness––like the maddening echo of the Marabar caves: Ouboom is the sound of colonial nonsense, the tam-tam to which Adela might have listened to. But, there was never ever any Jackie involved. As far as she was concerned, the suppression of the right to look, of the right to the real outlived other figments of the other, so that she was constantly and persistently asked to move on, to be looked at, to represent the enigma and the secret, the new and the ancient––as though there were nothing in her eyes to see––neither beauty nor horror. She is the living proof that there is clearly no decolonial genealogy of visuality, but only to look, to look, to see…

Künstliche Tatsachen (Artificial Facts) is a transnational exhibition and research project of Kunsthaus Dresden – Municipal Gallery for Contemporary Art with the artist group Artefakte//aktivierung (Brigitta Kuster, Regina Sarreiter, Dierk Schmidt) and the curator Sophie Goltz, in collaboration with Burning Museum in Cape Town, École du Patrimoine Africain in Porto-Novo (Benin), and the University Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou (Benin).

The project is supported by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa).

Kunsthaus Dresden, Artistic Director: Christiane Mennicke-Schwarz; Project Coordination: Bettina Lehmann, Tobias Mörike

Boundary Objects at Kunsthaus Dresden Municipal Gallery for Contemporary Art
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