Being Objects. Being Art. Masterpieces from the Collections of the Museum of World Cultures
October 31, 2009 - October 31, 2010
Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt
Cultures contribute to the richness of this world through their uniqueness and variety – as do their material products. This is reflected in the high-quality ethnographic collections from Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia, Oceania and East Asia at the Museum of World Cultures in Frankfurt/Main. For the first time, 130 ethnographica – everyday objects or ritual items from indigenous societies – taken from the abundance of a collection inventory comprising 67.000 items, are publicly presented from the point of view of 'the masterpiece' in an exquisite art project. The concept of 'masterpiece' comes from the century-old tradition of craft education. While a journeyman completed his apprenticeship with a 'journeyman's piece', only the one who was generally recognized as 'master' because of his excellent craftsmanship – among many other requirements to be fulfilled – received the title of a master.
Selected from a personal point of view by the regional curators, the beholder is meant to discover the extraordinary, the elaborate, the different, the perfect, the harmonic or even the disturbing in the objects concerned. Although the presentation of the works – the lack of space preventing from showing more than 98 items in the exhibition – underlines the aspect of art, the objects are also interpreted in their ethnographic contexts.
The title "Being Object. Being Art. Masterpieces from the Collections of the Museum of World Cultures in Frankfurt/Main" thus clarifies the intention of the curators: the issue 'art or context', discussed over and over again in presentations of non-Western-art – cannot be answered with an apodictic 'either/or' but with an 'as well as'.
The encounter with the objects which are incorporating the artistic, social and political concepts of indigenous societies promises to be a unique and fascinating experience of art. The latter is confirmed by a catalogue accompanying the exhibition in which all 130 works are reproduced: For this project the objects have been freshly photographed, some even for the first time.
For more information, please visit the Museum der Weltkulturen website.