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HKW Out and About: Dictionary of Now 2015–2018

©Kader Attia, Le Corps Reconstruit, 2015, courtesy the artist, private collection and Galerie Krinzinger,
Vienna and Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin

Thing is the fourth term to be discussed and questioned by the HKW within the context of its Dictionary of Now. In one of the last events at the Ethnologische Museum and its transfer to the Humboldt Forum in the coming years, Sharon Macdonald, Arjun Appadurai and Tony Bennett will be addressing the thing: Its subtexts, its obstinacy, and its political dimension. Museums stage objects as representations of specific spatial and temporal origins. How do these museum things formulate global orders and suppress alternative narratives? What meanings do they assume in the context of the dynamics of globalization and decolonization?

On the basis of selected artifacts, the three experts conduct an in-depth examination of the narrative strategies of the thing: How do things become signifiers in the museum space? How do societies deal with the problematic aspects of cultural heritage which emerge as a result? What processes of learning and unlearning are necessary in order to decode hegemonic narratives and geopolitics?

Arjun Appadurai, professor for media and cultural theory at New York University examines parallels between human migration and the circulation of things; Tony Bennett, professor for cultural theory at the University of Western Sydney, illustrates museum routines and regimes on the basis of the relationships of things; and the museologist Sharon Macdonald, Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Humboldt University’s European Ethnological Institute, connects the two theoretical approaches with the latest developments in Berlin’s museum landscape.

Nikolaus Gansterer, Theory Casing IV (of the Middle of the Moment), 2013 | wooden sticks, sticking tape,
polystyrene balls, ca. 130 x 80 x 80 cm | Courtesy the Artist

In the series Dictionary of Now, which runs until 2018, notable representatives from the sciences and the arts, theory and praxis will be questioning the established meanings of terms in twelve discussions, updating them against the background of their respective expertise. Each key term from the dictionary will be the subject of lectures, followed by a discussion with Bernd Scherer, Director of the HKW, in which they will be explored in greater depth. A publication to be released in 2018 at the end of the project 100 Years of Now will bring together the key terms and contributions from the individual editions.


The Dictionary of Now is part of 100 Years of Now. The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.

HKW Out and About
Dictionary of Now 2015–2018
Mon, October 10, 2016, 7pm 
#4 THING
Lectures and conversation
with Arjun Appadurai, Tony Bennett, and Sharon Macdonald

Venue:
Ethnologisches Museum
Lansstr. 8, 14195 Berlin
in English, admission free

The exhibitions at Ethnologisches Museum open from 5pm with free admission.

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