Questions about local versus global production and reception, about paradigm changes in cultural identity and about the possibilities of understanding foreign cultures are subjects of discourse and debate at universities, art museums and biennials all over the world. Surprisingly, however, these issues have yet to find much resonance within the very institutions which — in some cases willy-nilly — led the discussion in the 19th and 20th centuries: namely, ethnological museums and large institutional collections of what was widely known up to the 1970s as “world art.” Although it has now become customary practice to juxtapose historical collections with contemporary art, curators have hitherto by and large sidestepped the issue of how “foreign culture” has been received down through history. But the very relevance of an historical collection hinges on this very question.
The July 2014 exhibition Gastspiel (“guest appearance”) at the Museum Rietberg seeks to probe these possibilities. How do we “natives” react to what is temporally and geographically foreign? And what other questions do our reactions raise? 21 contemporary artistic positions, in the form of site-specific installations and performative actions, sound out the museum as an institution, its collection and the ideas underlying it. Edition Patrick Frey’s eponymous Das Fremde ist nur in der Fremde fremd presents various interpretations of these artistic interventions as well as photographic documentation of the show, rounded out by literary contributions from Peter Weber and Lukas Bärfuss. (The book is only available in German)
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 6 pm, Museum Rietberg, Zurich