UNIVERSALBOX

Stefania Smolkina /Juliane Bülow / Rebekka Katharina Bauer

Video, Sound, 16 min., loop; Objects, Installation, 4 x 6m
Exhibition “fremd”, GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig
29.01 – 8.05.2016 http://grassiinvites.info/fremd/buelowsmolkinabauer/

– “What you got in that box?”
– “Destiny”
Ray Bradbury “Dandelion Wine”

A spatial construction inside an exhibition context could be seen as fantastic scenery, enormous, and a self-contained showcase. Clean black interior with objects, while sound and video collage acts as an cinema chamber. Together they inciting thoughts about the situation of post-colonial representation at the modern Museum: insurmountable gap between visitors, as passive spectators, and foreign. Regardless of all explanations, arrangements and nomenclatures the dimension of the exhibits is still difficult to understand.

Since the late colonial period, existing documentary footage and films from French, German and British colonies. Depictions reproduced a  distant, unexplored, and exotic world. Moving pictures confirmed belonging of so-called Terra nullius and its people to their new sovereigns. First films of this era led together varied combination of ethnography, education, research, politics and propaganda. That black and white images landed up in ethnographic Museums as illustration of “Strangers” till our days.

For the Universalbox videos more then 20 videos from German and French colonial Africa have been processed, and some fashion show recordings as an imaginary bridge to the presence, which refers to colonial aesthetics (e.g. Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior)

As soundtrack for installing, both historic recordings from the colonial period has been used, as well as natural sounds from “sound maps” up to pure noise. On a second level a voice makes enclosed space of the box outward audible.The cut quotes come from the Lichtnecker archive, which German artist Hans Lichtnecker (1891-1988) collected after 1931 for a “race Archive” in Namibia. The recordings of people was digitized and translated only in 2007 and remained, until then, incomprehensible.

A wild mixture of archaeological, cultural, historical, cult and everyday use objects form collections of ethnographic museums. The circumstances of the origin remain unclear. The compilation for certainty, the Western view constructed classifications by material or use, makes each object a representative of the mysterious Others and lose their function.

Objects for the installation, as well as Video and Sounds, were created and designed according to these criteria. Due to superposition, deformation and addition, they could not longer be classified. Thus they shape as an empty space a projection free for fantasies of the visitors. Through transparency and diversity, they become nostalgic and whimsical creatures of the supposed ethnographic knowledge.

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UNIVERSAL_BOX from Stefania Smolkina on Vimeo.UNIVERSAL_BOX_TRAILER from Stefania Smolkina on Vimeo.

 

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