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MUSEUM VALUES RECONSIDERED. The Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pеčаr Collection

Exhibition by Ana Sladojević, PhD and Emilia Epštajn (MAA)

as part of the project/exhibition

Southern Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned

Exhibition curator: Bojana Piškur (MG+MCA)

Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana

Opening: 7 March 2019, at 8 p.m.

Duration: 7 March – 31 August 2019



MUSEUM VALUES RECONSIDERED. The Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pеčаr Collection

Curators’ Statement

Even though the establishment of the Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr Zdravko Pečar Collection (MAA) may seem as the logical outcome of the times in which the Non-aligned Movement figured as the basis for the conceptualisation of the world among Yugoslavs, in reality the MAA’s coming into life was the result of specific, primarily two circumstances: the personal efforts of its founders invested in creating a collection of African arts and the specific moment in 1977 when the Assembly of the City of Belgrade gave form to the project by building an actual architectural space to house the collection. Belgrade received the gift of a museum affording it legitimacy in more ways than one – on the level of status, politics and ideology. Nevertheless, the MAA represented an idiosyncrasy on the cultural map of Serbia and former Yugoslavia – something that becomes even more apparent from the present vantage point of reconsidering this institution. Also, this leads to a seemingly more relevant question to be posed in the present moment: What makes this Museum relevant today? Through the analysis of museum politics and discourses we are able to observe that, even though the predominant discourse of the time of establishment was anticolonial, the methodologies and procedures were almost completely adopted from similar institutions in the West. It comes as no surprise if we bear in mind that, unlike numerous collections of African art worldwide, the cultural tendencies that produced the MAA in Belgrade were not rooted in prior practices, and therefore had no significant continuity upon which to be based. Neither were they the result of a broader theoretical framework in the general field of the study of (African) art locally. Their common denominator was a certain disparity with regard to the place and time of their origination (Yugoslavia), both geographically and culturally. Despite Western methodologies and procedures, the ideas of the times: anticolonialism, equality among peoples and solidarity with liberation-movements’ struggle – nominally present in the public discourse of the times – are today interiorised, i.e. inscribed into this institution through processes of memory and remembrance. Therefore, the rhetoric that aimed to portray the MAA as anticolonial, determines it today as a place of remembrance of a certain historical period: the 1960s and 1970s, and the ideology of non-alignment, affording it importance which we are able to recognise only through the process of reconsidering this institution’s different layers of meaning.

*Museum Values Reconsidered: The Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pеčаr Collection on view at the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (7 March – 31 August 2019) draws to an extent from research and materials selected for the purposes of the exhibition “Nyimpa kor Ndzidzi – One Man, No Chop. (Re)conceptualization of the Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pečar Collection“ (23 May 2017 – 28 February 2018, MAA). It has however been re-tailored (expanded, and in certain segments redacted) as an active response to circumstantial requirements of museum space, geo-political location and the Southern Constellations: Poetics of the Non-Aligned project’s framework in general.

**The Museum Values Reconsidered – the Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pеčаr Collection was conceptualised and curated by Ana Sladojević, art theorist/freelance curator and Emilia Epštajn, MAA curator.

Southern Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned - Press kit (.pdf).

For more info visit: www.mg-lj.si


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