Over the course of our 18 years of gallery work, it has been very difficult to present African art in a satisfactory manner in Germany. Time and time again, in both reviews and the public esteem, we have been pushed into to an ethnographic corner where African art exists only as exotic artefact. In the past years, Peter Herrmann has begun more and more vehemently to express that art from Africa, whether old or new, must be removed from the realm of Ethnology and anchored instead in the realm of Art History. A parliamentary expert discussion on the topic was held in October of last year, the result being that this notion is now a leitmotif of both the art market and national cultural and educational policy. Working with representatives from the Office of the Federal President, Horst Köhler - who see cultural work with Africa as an important pillar of their politics - Peter Hermann has already been able to lead several discussions concerning this matter. In addition, a series of articles on the topic appeared at the end of 2007 in the Afrikapost, the magazine of the Africa Foundation. (German.)
In it, Mr. Christian Hanussek writes from the perspective of art theorists and artists, Ms. Dorina Hecht discusses the relationship between African art and Art History from the perspective of an art historian, Mr. Klaus Paysan speaks for the collectors, Mr. Stefan Eisenhofer writes from the view of ethnologists, and Peter Hermann writes as a curator and gallerist about the gateway to business . Three articles appeared in the September 2007 issue of Afrikapost and two further articles from Eisenhofer and Hermann in the December issue. To the foreword by Mr. Hess and a presentation of the authors.
The subject matter is exciting. The articles illuminate the most diverse aspects of the discourse on and realities of African art and provide specific references that could strongly influence cultural and educational policy over the next years. The first visible result of the increasingly dynamic discourse is the creation of two new positions at the Free University of Berlin: Professor and Assistant Professor for African Art History. The positions have already been announced together with two additional associate lecturer positions.
Participants in a panel of experts held on 24 September 2007 at the Paul Löbe House of the German Bundestag spoke about the ongoing tension between Art History and Ethnology:
- organized by Peter Herrmann and in collaboration with Dr. Uschi Eid (Member of German Parliament, Afrika Stiftung, IFA, etc).
Speakers in the Paul-Löbe-Haus des Deutschen Bundestags, September 24, 2007 (german):
Alex Moussa Sawadogo (Art historian, Burkina Faso/Berlin)
Felix Kama (Performance artist and writer, Kamerun/Stuttgart)
Manuela Sambo (Artist, Angola/Berlin)
Christian Hanussek (Artist und Projectmanager, Berlin)
Dr. Peter Junge (Museum of Mankind Berlin-Dahlem, Bereich Afrika)
Dr. Stefan Eisenhofer (Staatliches Museum of Mankind Munich, Africa)
Dorina Hecht (Art historian, Berlin)
Dr. Britta Schmitz (Curator of the Nationalgalerie at Hamburger Bahnhof)
Prof. Lydia Haustein (Art historian, Berlin)
Peter Herrmann (Gallery Director and Curator, Berlin)
Dr. Uschi Eid, MP (German Parliament, Institute for Foreign Affairs, Afrika-Stiftung, etc.)
Britta Müller (Scientific Assistant to Dr. Uschi Eid)