Changing perspectives of provenance
From the ‘puppet-worlds’ council of elders…to the cleaning out of colonial era storage cupboards…to the visit of a remorseful dictator. The project “Who’s Talking – Changing Perspectives of Provenance” opens the doors to an artistic exploration of the KOLK17 collection. Six artists of African, Asian and European descent turn their focus to the collection and develop their own opinion to puppets they themselves have chosen. The resulting artworks will be exhibited in a virtual exhibition. The recurring question however, is: Who is talking?
Creating knowledge without revealing secrets
Photo: KOLK 17
The KOLK 17 collection comprises over 20,000 exhibits from Europe, Asia and Africa and thus contains many stories and secrets. The question of where individual figures travelled from and what stations they passed through until they found their way into the museum cannot be definitively answered in many cases.
If and when answers are found, what might the consequences be and for whom?
Parallel to the artistic debate, scientists are brought in to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge with their expertise. The question of the cultural context from which the various puppets originally emerged plays an essential role. Comprising of much more than just the place of origin: the nature in which the puppets were played; the stories that were told with them, as well as their function are all important aspects which, if possible should be included.
Some of the invited artists will deal with exhibits from their own countries, others will make suggestions for artistic approaches to the non-European part of the collection. The result will be six artistic contributions in video format from different perspectives – a diversity of voices that, hopefully will shine light where until now was darkness.
A knowledge that unearths secrets without revealing them.
The project is funded by the Foundation for Performing Arts with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the NEUSTART KULTUR – #TakeNote funding programme.
who is TALKING?
and symposium from
July 30th – August 1st, 2021
and symposium from
July 30th – August 1st, 2021
the act of talking
Among the artists involved, there are different approaches as to the definition of speaking. However all concerned agree on one thing: there is more to the act of speaking than just the use of verbal language. A dance, a work of art, the movement of a marionette – these are all forms of speech.
For “Who’s talking?” these forms of speaking are significant. Just as important as the question of WHO is talking is the question of HOW. To speak verbally about a character whose story of origin is obscure is primarily speculation. Translating this speculation into artistic media such as dance or performance opens up new areas of knowledge.
To communicate artistically can mean to work organically rather than methodically. Nevertheless, each work of art represents its own truth. With luck, this will give rise to new ideas and insights – provided that the scientific side is not ignored in the process. That is why the project unites both approaches under a common theme: changing perspectives of provenance.
WHO is talking?
There are countless ways to make art speak: some artists work conceptually, others intuitively; some attach importance to a political message, while others communicate through poetry. In “Who’s talking?”, two choreographers, a performance artist and three puppeteers represent different approaches.
Not only artistic voices will have their say in “Who’s Talking? Several scientists will also enrich the project with their perspective. Their expertise will complement the artist’s knowledge and manifest itself with the help of various materials and their specific mode of application. The international contributions will be presented at a symposium on the opening weekend, making possible an engaging dialogue between the camps of the artistic and the scientific.
“Who’s Talking?” AND “COLONIALISM AND PUPPET THEATRE“
In 2020, we gave you the virtual exhibition “Colonialism and Puppet Theatre. Untangling the Threads” in which we traced the path of a number of non-European artefacts from the puppet or object in their original setting to their place as an object in the museum. During this process, the topic of (post) colonialism was raised and the museum’s own exhibition practice was critically reflected upon.
The question of ‘who is talking’ about the exhibits and the intrinsic potential to create new, possibly distorted meanings, was already negotiated here to an extent. The project “Who’s Talking?” can therefore also be considered as the second part of an exhibition-series dealing with the responsibility that an extensive collection of non-European objects brings with it.
While Part 1 is essentially based on the research conducted by the museum’s academic staff, Part 2 now opens up a field for alternative, creative forms of knowledge production. This process of artistic research functions according to other laws, allowing for associative approaches and enables narration without the revision of object biographies.
Nevertheless, it raises questions about appropriation and agency. At a symposium in the summer, these and other aspects of the topic will be addressed by international scholars. The long-term goal of the project is to build an international network for a mutual transfer of knowledge between puppetry and the study of puppet theatre.
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