At the invitation of Museum Folkwang, Cuban artist duo Los Carpinteros (Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez, born 1969, and Marco Antonio Castillo Valdés, born 1971) have created an installation at a central point in the permanent Collection which offers a new place for and a new way of presenting the Archaeology, Global Art and Applied Arts Collection started by Karl Ernst Osthaus.
Displaying works of ancient and non-European cultures alongside European avant-garde paintings and sculptures was a basic tenet of Museum Folkwang at its inception and a concern with these items in the Collection remains to this day one of the central elements of its mission. Alongside carrying out the necessary restoration work and exploring the history of how they were acquired, the focus is in particular on presenting them in a manner appropriate to their artistic and historical importance. In the context of the intense debate over the last few years on how Western museums handle non-European art, this also means asking how “artistic and historical significance” should currently be defined and what an “appropriate presentation” should accomplish.
Los Carpinteros provide an answer as spectacular as it is inspiring. Their Helm/Helmet/Yelmo installation is both sculpture and exhibition architecture, a junction of different possible interpretations that refer to the museum and the means it has for staging content. The museum’s different cultural, political and economic instrumentalisations are skilfully mixed up with historical and current ways of addressing the objects it preserves. Both artists have in their oeuvre combined the elements of museum display (namely architecture, exhibition furnishings and exhibits) in such a way that a venue has arisen where the museum takes the stage in terms of its material qualities, modus operandi, and “institutional character”.
Over the next five years, a series of different objects from the Archaeology, Global Art and Applied Arts Collection will be presented in the extensive installation.
The exhibition has been funded by RWE.