“Every museum should be seen as the theater of a memorial, political and economic competition,” says Jean-Loup Amselle, the French anthropologist and ethnologist, specializing in African cultures (it’s his book Logiques métisses, published in Italy by Bollati Boringhieri, and the pamphlet Contro il primitivismo, published by the same publishing house, where he investigated the mistakes and the fractures of his own sense of discipline).
He takes a confident, radical position with regard to displaying works of art or artifacts in any collection — ethnographic but also contemporary. What counts today — much more than the content that becomes “art” only after it’s moved to the West usually because of a colonial heritage — is the impressive architecture of the museums. It’s their monumental form that identifies and signals the zeitgeist.
He provides compelling evidence of the contradictions that arise between national narratives that compete in the “temples of history” in his latest book Le musée exposé, which the author presented this weekend at a festival in Pistoia.