Who are you?

Museums are like crypts, warehouses for dormant objects and photographs. In ethnological museums photographs are usually anonymous. The photo portraits shown here from the collections in Leipzig and Dresden date from the End of the 19th century to the 1930s. They were mainly used to typify and classify population groups by physiognomic characteristics, clothing or adornment.

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The identity of the people, their personal history and their names were thus lost. The aim was not only to research population groups, but often also to hierarchize them. Today thousands of anonymous objects and photographs are kept here in the museum and are separated from their former lives. Are we still able to let them speak? Who are the people who have been photographed, whose names we almost never know? What were they thinking of at the moment the photograph was taken? What can they tell us today? Who is speaking for whom?

This installation “Who are you?” focuses on the subject of ethnology – the human being – and undertakes a difficult attempt at biographical reconstruction. But is that really possible?

© Mo.Zaboli

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© Mo.Zaboli
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