MUSEUM ON THE COUCH Winter Term 2015/2016

Reflexive and Creative Explorations in Anthropology

6 Installations | 6 Theoretical Questions | 6 Important Insights


1 House of Spirits - Your Ancestors are Calling

At least by now that humans are the most influential factor on the planet, we are so deeply intertwined with nature, that we inevitably are linked together. Under this light, the performative installation of ‘House of Spirits’ is the attempt to transpose this new found unity of nature and culture into the museum. In consequence, this interconnection updates our understanding of modernity. The installation invites the visitor to leave his individual physical and mental boundaries behind and to connect himself with his environment. Situated in the GRASSI Museum, it transforms the ethnological museum into a space where (cultural) history comes into being, is evolving and not only referred to.

The single reception in the tent, where the visitor will be guided through, creates a favourable environment of mental clarity which in return makes the visitor unexpectedly receptive to occurrences outside of his daily consciousness. He will be connected with his environment in a way that touches the field of animism. It carries through relations that understand humans as related to inert substances, objects or living beings while accordingly considering them as actors. Hence, the divide between object and subject becomes permeable. Where the self is the result of negotiations of relations arises the question of whether the experiences it makes are his own or if he is animated through them.      



2 The Color Project

The starting point of this little intervention is the idea of color as a powerful means of museal display. Color is dumb but thanks to long-established stereotypes and pictures of non-western cultures, color becomes an informant. Color tells quite a lot about the origin, the production and the use of an object. The colors we choose to give form to a museal display is not as neutral as we might think. Through a simple play of colors it becomes possible to make visible the effect of color in ethnographic museums. The aim was to create a wordless critique of color in ethnographic museums. It is first an attempt to identify hidden power relations in traditional exhibition designs and second an attempt to take them up and to beat them in their own game.



The Hanuman Temple – a multisensorial experience

We all associate specific places with particular smells, sounds, tastes and images. This installation is the attempt to reconstruct such an experience. The project picks up the problem of ethnological museums focusing above all on the visual presentation of objects and topics. It points to the long neglected importance of multisensorial perception which is the foundation of profound understanding, in that it changes this cognitive process into an emotional experience.



The spices of India – olfactory associations


When you are smelling cinnamon, clove and cardamom, what ideas come to your mind? With this installation we want to point out to the significance of olfactory perception. Within the atmosphere of an indian roundhouse we want to send you, by means of your senses of smell, on a journey into German cuisine. In this way we want to indicate the interconnectivity and hybridity of all cultures and illustrate that authenticity is a social construct.



A Plastic Culture

We offer you this global seat and want to invite you to take a trip through front gardens, beach cottages, mountain landscapes and large cities. The materiality of plastic chairs contrasted strongly with those of the most regional specific objects, which are presented in the showcases of the museum. However today plastic objects are used in every part of the globe, in the most distant corner of the world. So, is there a „Plastic Culture“ or cultures of plastic? We think yes to the later, because global items like plastic chairs become culturally appropriated. This is visible in the regional preferences for specific forms and colours.



Inside-Out. Ideal objects in packaging 

Exhibits arrive wrapped. They are stored in air-conditioning. A large majority of the exhibition objects are not visible in the museum, until after purchase, indeed receiving grants of archival storage. This installation seeks to retrace the effort expended. Hence, it showcases the objects as invisible and presents their packaging and estimated - symbolic - monetary value.



Annette Veit
 Tel + 49 341 97 37 220
Fax + 49 341 97 37 229
Office Hours:
10 am - 11 am
1 pm - 2 pm


Ursula Rao
 +49 341 97 37 221
Institut für Ethnologie
Schillerstraße 6
04109 Leipzig