Playing hide and seek with Yinka Shonibare

Brooklyn Museum period roomI’ve never quite understood the concept of reassembling historic rooms, putting a red velvet rope around it, and funneling tourists on a counter-intuitive path through a house, castle, or museum. But once Yinka Shonibare placed child figures ducking under desks or rocking on horses in the Brooklyn Museum’s “renowned” period rooms, peeking through an untouchable room’s window became a game.

Leaving his exhibit on the first floor of the Brooklyn Museum, I felt a bit cheated. I didn’t expect the majority of Shonibare’s survey to be film. But the map revealed there was more –the large-scale game of hide and seek brought me through other galleries to find those little figures in their clothes of “patterned Dutch wax fabric produced in Europe for a West African market” inside rooms that could easily have belonged to colonists.  According to the exhibition’s website, another site-specific installation, Party Time—Re-Imagine America: A Centennial Commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE,  will be on view at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, from July 1, 2009, to January 3, 2010, in the dining room of the museum’s 1885 Ballantine House.  Would it be cheating to use 20th century transportation?

Tut v. Franklin

It’s the dog days of summer and things have clearly slowed down around here, with SD’ers in various foreign places enjoying themselves. Nothing jolts us up out of our slumber faster, though, than learning about the protest of the curators of the King Tut exhibit, currently on view at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

While any museum protest would be of interest to us, this one is particularly interesting as the organizers are claiming that curators of the exhibit have intentionally made King Tut whiter than he in fact was. Their demands are as follows:

Demand 1
The Franklin Institute must make a Public Apology for not properly representing King Tut as an African in the Golden Ages Exhibit and thus falsely representing KMT (Ancient Egypt) as non-African .

Demand 2
The Franklin Institute must develop and display a Historical, Factual, and Scientific Exhibit of the African foundation and identity of Dynastic KMT.

Demand 3
The Franklin Institute must Display the Pioneering Accomplishments of African Nile Valley Civilization in education, architecture, social organization, art, industry, etc.

Demand 4
The Franklin Institute must document and display
the great research and accomplishments of Cheikh Anta Diop in scientifically proving that KMT was indeed an African civilization.

As important a discussion as this is, we’re still more interested in proving, once and for all, that Black Bart is cooler than Bart.

Black Bart

fra-gi-le. must be italian!

LA’s best museum-on-top-of-a-3-mile-trolley-ride just got pwn3d, agreeing to hand over 40 antiquities to Italy. The Eye-talians claim the historic artworks, including a sculpture from the 5th century BC depicting Aphrodite, were plundered from their soil by the evil Getty.  The statue depicts a “cult deity” goddess, and not the cult drum ‘n’ bass producer Aphrodite, who produced such hits as “Luniz – I got 5 on it (jungle remix)” in the mid-90s.

In similar news, the Olive Garden is returning its recipe for its cult dish “Tour of Italy,” which features cuisine plundered from several parts of the boot-shaped nation: “Homemade lasagna, lightly breaded chicken parmigiana and creamy fettuccine alfredo.”


your glossy pamphlet supports terr’ism

What happens to a catalogue when its museum is blown to bits? It becomes a price guide for thieves! Now you too can own your own rare edition of this necessary black market guide, the 1974 Afghanistan National Museum catalogue.

Over the past twenty-five years, the Kabul Museum has been bombed, burned, and looted. Published in 1974, this catalogue remains the definitive record of the Museum prior to these indignities. Many of the objects depicted in the book are now lost to the art world – either destroyed, or illegally in the secretive hands of cultural poachers and private collectors around the world. The author herself has recently acknowledged that this sadly has become a veritable shopping guide for international art thieves.


a visit to the shrink: totem and taboo

ripley3heads.jpgRumor has it the American Museum of Natural History still has a shrunken head or two buried deep in the bowels of its collection. Doc Bwana, however, would rather leave fancy words like “repatriation” and “postcolonialism” to the academics in their ivory towers. His online shrunken head museum harbors no such guilt.

And didn’t you know?

Shrunken heads are popular display items in museums, school rooms, and shopping malls everywhere.