Publikationsserver der Universitätsbibliothek Marburg

Titel:Art, Artefacts, and Alienation: Religious Materials as World Art (Arts Premiers)
Autor:Frateantonio, Christa (Prof. Dr.)
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:04-es2022-00101
DDC:200 Religion, Religionsphilosophie


Golablization, Globalisierung, Kunstmarkt, Art market, Antike, Colonialism, Tervuren, Classics, Tervuren, Kolonialismus

How religious materials are presented as art in museums is so far little discussed from a Study of Religions viewpoint. I would like to enter this topic in asking if this kind of presentation can be called alienation or rather apotheosis, and reflecting on what Europe’s iconoclastic transformation-of-religious-things-history might have to do with it. Starting-point will be Belgium’s first world exhibition, the »Exposition Coloniale« in 1897. In its context a multitude of artefacts originating from the Kongo-area, at that time Belgium’s colony, were presented. Ritual masks, and so-called fetishes, were part of an exhibition in combination with modern artworks designed by famous Belgian artists of the time (art nouveau). The extensive exhibition included not only artefacts from the religious sphere of the Kongo-area but as well flora and fauna, such as ivory- and mahogany-works. All of this was placed in the for the purpose ad hoc new built Palais des Colonies, Brussels later Musée royal de l’Afrique Centrale de Tervuren. Different to ethnological collections established all around Europe from the 19th century onwards, presenting religious materials as part of different ›colonial‹ cultures which became subject of academic research, new-born or relabelled art, namely primary religious artefacts do not. Museums such as Tervuren, or Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, and a growing number of worldwide Museums presenting Global or World-Art rather conceal their religious origin than reflect upon it. But: the way these fetishes, masks, and further religious objects are presented is strikingly close to what Hans Belting and others have called creating an aura in a temple (= museum). And is in Europe no completely new phenomenon deriving only from colonial times, as is sometimes supposed. But it has as well its own roots in religious iconoclasms, and the resultant transformations of religious artefacts into art. Selected and representative examples of exhibition shall put up this assumption for discussion.

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