Duet For Cannibals: Forms of Cultural Appropriation

Duet for Cannibals: Forms of Cultural Appropriation is a publication based on a screening and discussion program bringing together a selection of works by contemporary artists and filmmakers as well as footage from the archive of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. The title Duet for Cannibals is borrowed from a 1969 film directed by American author and critic Susan Sontag. Anthropologic and ethnographic institutions in European colonial power centres, like the former Colonial Institute of Amsterdam (nowadays the Royal Tropical Institute), were founded to study and exhibit the cultures of ‘overseas people’. Their role was to appropriate, classify, and display cultural artefacts and sometimes even human beings. Though they claimed to reveal the pre-supposed cultural essence of the non-European other, such displays further entrenched the stereotypes of a Eurocentric scientific and cultural status quo. In other words, it was by means of the inclusion of other cultures rather than their exclusion, that the colonial power constructed and affirmed itself within the enlightened modern institution, enhancing a privileged position from where it could unilaterally represent the rest of the world.

The works in Duet for Cannibals present a wide range of approaches to this debate by departing from historical strata of colonial archives, post-war cultural imperialism and countercultural forms of metropolitan creole-subcultures. Duet for Cannibals: Forms of Cultural Appropriation deals with colonialism and cannibalism as forms of cultural appropriation.

The publication is comprised of works by Raimond Chaves, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Hans Heijnen, Paulo Herkenhoff, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ossama Mohammed, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Jose Alejandro Restrepo, Susan Sontag, Andy Warhol and Ming Wong. The curator and editor of Duet for Cannibals is Inti Guerrero, with the collaboration of Karin Christof (Agentur).

The publication and program were commissioned by Agentur, an artists’ and curators’ platform initiated 2004 by the curator and writer Karin Christof as a project space for international curators and artists to identify new artistic tendencies within and beyond Europe.

Graphic Design: COUP
Publisher: Agentur in collaboration with JapSam Books

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