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Non-normative relations wanted: Testing queer methods at the Berlin Ethnological Museum

Meral Karacaoglan

Under the premise of non-normative or queer methods, the research group deals with alternative narratives of knowledge transfer of the Ethnological Collection of the Staatliche Museen Berlin, which is exhibited today in the Humboldt Forum. In a total of nine subprojects, eleven students have put together a program that enables alternative readings of the collection and can be applied by visitors to the museum. Aria Moriarty Tiloves project interprets how the museum produces heteronormative discourses of gender and sexuality and explores the use of a guided tour as a queering strategy in the museum. Analyzing the production and implementation of the tour, she will explore how “queering” is operationalized within the museum space. Karina Beliks and Polina Shablovskaias project Mapping Connections: Exploring Contexts and Reflecting in the Humboldt Forum Exhibitions researches on the lack of context in the exhibitions and uncertainty regarding access to information. Alexander Hongs project wants to look at the current relations of Germany and the African continent. The Humboldt Forum uses maps in an interesting way alongside their exhibits, the question is if maps could be a way to highlight ongoing colonial relationships that Europe still has with the rest of the world. Elizaveta Fokina and Sophie Breßler research on questions about creation of the object’s value. It is about exploration on collecting and preserving as a long-lasting continuity in conjunction with experimenting on the modes of temporality within the Lautarchiv. Christian Beltran is challenging the issue of artefact mishandling and misrepresentation by queering artefact display in his projects’ installation. Instead of inviting the audience to divide their attention across a collection, their focus is directed to one object and its significance is determined by the audience through proximity, contiguity, and evocative materials. Meral Karacaoglan investigates how much Kunstkammer still appears in the display of the collection today and to what extent the added value of this historical exhibition practice can create awareness for the diverse origins of the objects. Jiaying Gaos exhibition project The Notion of Fans uncovers the multifaceted tapestry of art, culture, and history and displays different fans from the collection and depot. Contextualizing the objects around the dance history with the Chinese fan, the project seeks to challenge a notion that objects hold power moving the human body.