Scharf Belichted – Objects of Desire in an Ethnographic Collection
The research group of four London-based photographers from France, Germany, Iran and Switzerland investigated the ethnographic collection and image archive, conducting fieldwork in the museum’s stores and archives. Historically, photography has played a significant part in the representation of foreign cultures, and these photographic records speak of the complexities of the colonial as well as the ethnographic gaze. Blees Luxemburg researched and analysed the different ways in which ‘tribal art’ and ethnographic objects have been staged in studio photography, as well as the systems and categories with which the museum operates to store and accumulate its archive and collection.
The resulting exhibition focused on the research aspect of the investigation, and included work in progress, books and other related research materials. Exhibited together, these new works of artistic research aim to deconstruct existing presuppositions of cultural contact, photographic history and ethnographic realism. Reviews included Christoph Schütte in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kultur (2013) and Marie-Sophie Adeoso in Frankfurter Rundschau (2013).
Subsequently, Blees Luxemburg participated in the international think-tank ‘Persecuted, Mourned, Pitied, Admired – Collected and Photographed’ at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt (2013). Topics discussed included the ‘The eye of the artist versus the eye of the anthropologist’ (a discussion around desire, violence, subjectivity, social photography, and the distinction between the gaze of the artist and that of the anthropologist).
A specific selection of the photographic works Blees Luxemburg made during her research will be exhibited in the major exhibition ‘Foreign Exchange – Field Report of an Ethnographic Collection’ at the Weltkulturen Museum in January 2014, accompanied by a 350-page publication (English and German).