Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum

The Bode Museum in Berlin features a comparative exhibition of sculptures from Africa and Europe

February 06th, 2019
Anastasia Petrova, News from Berlin
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Since October 2017 and until July 2019, the Bode Museum in Berlin hosts the exhibition called “Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode Museum”. The exhibition presents sculptures from Africa and Medieval Europe side by side highlighting different and similar approaches to various topics. For example, on the photo above one can see a sculpture of Virgin Mary and a power figure of the Congo – though different, they serve the same purpose – the protection of a community. On the other hand, topics such as motherhood clearly highlights the differences in visual language, style and technique.

By comparing the figure of Jesus Christ and Chibinda Ilunga, the observer can see different manifestations of heroism in the respective cultures – when Jesus endures and shows martyrdom, the oversized hands of the Chibinda Ilunga shows energy and willingness to act.

The observer ought to ask, why is one considered a work of art and another is an ethnological artefact? It is in the power of the observer to ask themselves and compare, to see the differences and similarities. The exhibition focuses on the comparison of African and European cultures, and therefore tied to topics such as colonialism, history, aesthetics and gender.


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