Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stefan Weber - Berlin Museum

Aleppo room

Ishtar gate
Stefan Weber, orientalist and director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, Germany, gave a lecture in Kuwait at the Dar al Athar al Islamiyah. The title was obscure:" Fragments of a lost Past or evidence of a connected History: the role of urban artistic heritage in the new conceptualization of the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin".
It sounded convoluted, introverted study of unknown objectives.

Dr Weber pulled it off quite nicely and gave a historical perspective of the museum itself, with dynamics and thought process behind it in the 1920's and the 1930's. He explained the evolution and reasons behind a museum and the evolution of objects' presentations. As the museum is expanding in another wing, he shared briefly the process of making a new space.

He talked about how historically objects and architecture were not isolated but interconnected through time, space and in relation to global trade and movement of artisans. He referred to what Yuka Kadoi was lecturing on few weeks ago: "the Islamic Chinoiserie"or how China influenced Iran in productions of art and objects. But he had a more assertive tone and did not seem to question at all the evidences. He showed the phoenix and the dragon, symbols in China, on metalwork produced in Iran. For him, it could have been imported as a symbol, but after a generation, it was totally integrated in the culture and fashion thus becoming part of the local consciousness.

It seems like a new trend to integrate art history in a context and expand it, rather than isolate objects and art history in its own frame.

In the new Museum, he explained that objects will be displayed according to three parameters: of course chronologically, then geographically, and last, in relation to how and where these objects were used.

Have you been to the Islamic Art Museum in Berlin? Hurry then! They have treasures, and they have directors passionate about their work.
Dr Weber said:"When I got my job at the Museum, I was so happy I could see the Aleppo room and all its woodwork at all times, it's my favorite..."


xavier said...

I had visited this museum five years ago, the master piece is a full reconstituate greek roman temple. They stole many treasures in the planet. Now, it's necessary to justify it in order to keep their treasures.

sarah said...

Thank you Xavier for your comment.
Yes it is not their property, and not their heritage.
But the question is a deeper one: in Arab World, what are we doing with our own heritage?
Do you remember what happened in the Baghdad Museum after the US? looting...
It is a difficult question