WHAT DO I SEE?

About the wood sculpture on the poster of the exhibition “WORLDS IN MOTION. Narrating Migration” (from 23rd October)

As European expansion increased and ultimately culminated in colonialism, stereotypical and racist images of Africans spread and became established that continue to have an effect today. At the same time, images of Europeans were created which present a very clear counter-impression: this figure by an unknown Angolan artist from the late nineteenth century shows a man in European clothing with a walking stick and straw hat. These representations and others of its kind were interpreted by German ethnologist and sociologist Julius Lips in his groundbreaking in 1937 published book “The Savage Hits Back or the White Man through Native Eyes” as a satirical criticism of Europeans which underlines the subversive agency of the colonised. In addition to Lips’ interpretation of a European, the figure might also depict an so called “Ambaquista”: a person, sometimes with Portuguese ancestry, who belonged to a society of influential traders and middlemen. As interest developed in the sculptures as souvenirs, they were also produced specifically for the Western market.

Julia Friedel Curator Africa

Find out more about the exhibition here. In October, you can read why the exhibition poster sparked a debate in the museum in our new newspaper “Weltkulturen News”.