Vortrag: Prof. Dr. Mårten Snickare (Stockholm University)

Date(s) - 29/11/2017
18:00 - 20:00

HU Hauptgebäude, Hörsaal 3075
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Prof. Dr. Mårten Snickare

Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Stockholm University

 Learning from the Kunstkammer? Colonial Objects and Decolonial Options

Since the early days of colonialism, objects from faraway places have entered the Kunstkammern and museums of European royalties, aristocrats and scholars. Still present in modern Western museums, these objects are nowadays often regarded as embarrassing reminders of a history of oppression and exploitation. They have become das Unbehagen im Museum, to cite the title of an Austrian anthology on postcolonial museology. Taking as a point of departure a number of objects that once arrived in Swedish Kunstkammern, this lecture will discuss the uneasy presence of colonial objects in museums of today. How are we to approach these objects? Are there ethically defendable ways of displaying them in our ethnographic and other museums? What might we do to the objects? What might they do to us? The basic premises of the lecture are: First, that it might be productive to discuss the present situation in the light of a nuanced understanding of older display practices; that we might actually learn something from the Kunstkammer. Second, that colonial objects deserve a place at the center of current discussions on the shortcomings and potentials of museums and display in a globalized world; that they have a potential to make visible – and thereby stir up – some of the hierarchies and dichotomies governing the Western museum and display system.


Mårten Snickare is professor of art history at Stockholm University, and he has published extensively on the ritual and performative use of baroque art and architecture. Together with Professor Peter Gillgren he has edited the anthology Performativity and Performance in Baroque Rome (Ashgate 2012). Snickare has also taken an interest in the concept of baroque, and in baroque tendencies in contemporary art and visual culture. He has curated and participated in a number of exhibitions on that topic, most recently Barockt at Kulturhuset, Stockholm (2014). Currently he is undertaking research on colonialism, materiality and visuality. Snickare has been a research fellow at Yale University (2005-06), Clark Art Insitute (2010) and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (2012), and guest lecturer at the University of Warwick (2015, 2017).