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Lukas Buettner on The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage
8 November, 2023
The Kunstmuseum Rietberg exhibits its large collection in a very neutral and non-judgemental way. As a result, visitors are quickly tempted to stroll through the rooms at a certain speed and with a certain indifference. The only thing that changes impressively for the visitor is his surroundings. A park, a villa, a bunker. The experience is therefore hardly derived from the exhibits but rather from the interesting interplay of these three places. Places that contrast so strongly with the works of art on display that you soon wonder what story the exhibition is trying to tell.
A question that consequently leads to the strange feeling that these cultural artefacts are not comprehensible to us at all. Isn’t it the history of things that gives us access to them and makes them interesting for us? Most people admire the villa because of the social status it conveys, and what privilege the park radiates.
In consequence, the audio guide is a very interesting medium to better understand the history of the individual elements and to be able to fully immerse yourself in a single work of art. You forget the surroundings and start to think about what stories these little statues might harbour. The more time you devote to an object, the more interesting it seems. A value that emerges over time, which we must yet rediscover.