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Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis, Friederike: On the Reception of Aboriginal Art in German Art Space. Art Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, VDM Verlag, Saaarbrücken 2011, ISBN 9783639297591

Table of Contents        ¦         Cover Text        ¦         Book Review

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements -1-

Glossary -3-

Introduction -13-


Aim of Thesis

Approach and Theoretical Frame


Part One: The Background: 1755-1871 Culture and Enlightenment -33-

1.1 Historical Background for the Reception of Aboriginal Art in Germany

1.2 Defining Culture

Historical Aspects of Culture

Identiy Politics and Nation-Building Processes

1.3 Art and Science: Cultural Parameters through Art History and Ethnology

Art History as Hierarchical Classification System

Art History as Scientific Analysis of Art

Ethnology – a Discipline Evolves

Ethnology and Bildung

Images of Other Cultures – Paintings by Eugene von Guérard

Part Two: 1871-1900s German Colonialism, Nation-building and the Modernist Project -63-

2.1 Cultural Reading of the Self and Other

Bildung as National Strategy

German Imperialism and Culture 1871-1918

Culture as Project of Progress and Nationhood until 1918

Collections and the Search for Self

Colonial Collections: Art as Commodity and Artistic Renewal

2.2 Representation of Cultures and the Articulation of Other in Literature, Art and Völkerschauen

Lindt’s Photography – Artistic Impressions

Völkerschauen – Spectacle of fieldwork?

Art, Myths and Nation-building

Part Three: 1900-1945 From Cosmopolitanism to Germanness in Art in the Third Reich -89-

3.1 Ethnology and Art History: Bildung in the Climate of Nation-building

From Describing (Ethnography) to Analysing (Ethnology)

Art History and the Meaning of Form

3.2 Expressionism as Degenerate Art in the Third Reich 1933-1945

Expressionists and the “Primitive”

“Primitive Art” in Art History

National Socialist Ideology and Ethnology

Part Four: 1950-2000s The Re-shaping of Identity: Exhibition Strategies in Framing Otherness -112-

4.1 Division of Art into European (Art History) and non-European Art (Ethnology)

Return to Modernity through Art – documenta I in 1955

The Emancipation of Art

4.2 Art History: a Specialised Reading of Art

Developing Scientific Parameters


Folk Art

Art History – an Unfinished Project of Modernity?

4.3 A Paradigm of Framing the Indigenous: Analphabetic Equals non-Historical

The Meaning of Art in Ethnology

Part Five: Cultural Representation, Incommensurability, Authenticity: the Dualism of Literacy and Orality -138-

5.1 Cultural Representation, Incommensurability and the Notion of Authenticity

Romantic Literary Narratives and the Notion of Authenticity

Contact Zone

Authority of the Literary Genre

The Colonial Glaze: Völkerschauen

Incommensurability and Authenticity: Concepts to Deal with the Culturally Other

Part Six: Literacy and Orality: Positioning of Art through Institutional Space -158-

6.1 Reading Aboriginal Art across the Borders of Literacy

Literacy as Signifier of Culture

On the Other Side of the Fence: Orality and Illiteracy

6.2 Oral Systems of Knowledge

What Constitutes Literacy and Texts?

Oral Knowledge Systems, Art and Authority

Aboriginal Art as Visual Extension of Orality

Orality – a Different Kind of Literacy?

Part Seven: Aboriginal Art in Australia -179-

7.1 Aboriginal Art in Australia

7.2 Collecting Aboriginal Objects – Creating and Maintaining Order

Exacting Control over Land – Invisible Culture

7.3 Recognising Aboriginal Art as Art: from “Primitive” to “High” Art

Exhibiting Aboriginal Art

7.4 Aboriginal Art as International Statement: Biennales of Sydney

Exhibition Practice as Diplomatic Device

Part Eight: Aboriginal Art in Germany -212-

8.1 Aboriginal Art in Germany

8.2 Aboriginal Collections as Art

Collection History

Aboriginal Art and Museums of Ethnology: 90th Birthday of Andreas Lommel Jubilee Exhibition

8.3 Art Museums and Ethnographic Museums Delineate Art Language and Discourse

Magiciens de la Terre

Documenta IX

Documenta XI

8.4 Advocacy of Aboriginal Art: Exhibitions since the 1980s

Iwalewa Haus

Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr

Aboriginal Art in Ethnological Museums

8.5 Public Art Institutions: Exhibitions as Trans-cultural Exploration




Part Nine: Alphabetic Literacy, Art Representation and Symbolic Power -240-

9.1 Art Representation and Symbolic Power

Literate Constructions as Transmitter of Knowledge

Exhibition Space Can be Read as Text (Cultural Production and Symbolic Violence)

9.2 Symbolic Power in Conservativism and Cultural Assumptions

The Literary Spaces of Visual Culture

The Medium of Artworks as Sign

9.3 Representing Aboriginal Art as Act of Symbolic Violence

Symbolic Violence and its Bearing on Representation of the Other

Part Ten: Trans-cultural Exchange and Artistic Exploration -266-

10.1 Art as Knowledge

10.2 Art as Monologic Appropriation

Emil Nolde and the “Primitive”

Margaret Preston and the “Primitive”

10.3 Art as Dialogic Enquiry

Nikolaus Lang and the “Forensic” Exploration of Material

John Mawurndjul – Innovating Intercultural Processes

Artist Intention


Aesthetic Innovation and Change

Conclusion -296-

Bibliography -301-

Plate Details -340-

Appendix -350-

Cover Text

The reading of art is located in deeply entrenched ideas of culture and contextualised by specific historical frameworks. This book addresses the question of how Australian Aboriginal art is displayed in the institutional spaces of art galleries and museums in Germany. It argues that there is an underlying current in Germany that divides the representation of art into European and ‘Other’. In German culture, institutional representation of art is hierarchical; the art museum at the top enhances the self-reflexive notion of culture, while the ethnological museum provides the context against which European, specifically German, identity and culture are pitched. German art history and ethnology have led to a binary reading of art that has largely inhibited the exhibition of Aboriginal art as contemporary art. However, Aboriginal art that is contextualised as ethnographic and not as contemporary continues a Modernist attitude on cultural exchange, emphasising an essential difference. This essentialising of art overlooks the globalised situation that evokes regional cultural inflections based on postcolonial expressions of hybridity and fragmentation.