BLACK ATLAS AT HAVERFORD COLLEGE'S CANTOR FITZGERALD GALLERY ASKS "HOW DID THE WORLD COME TO EUROPE?"
HAVERFORD, Pa.— Museums of world culture have seldom engaged in any self-conscious examination of the logistics of transporting artifacts to their collections. But how were these collections constituted? How do cultural objects and photographs that record material culture travel to become a source for knowledge production in the west? In short, how did the world come to Europe? Black Atlas, an exhibition by Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, seeks to explore these questions by turning the ethnographic gaze onto itself.
Based on photographs found in the archives of the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, Sweden, the exhibition reflects upon the administration of racialized labor for transporting artifacts from across the world to the museum's storage. Though famous collectors and explorers get all the glory for their risky or difficult travels, those travels were made possible by the work of many black and brown people from the countries being explored. As Russian explorer Wilhelm Junker told members of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in 1888, "certainly more than 20,000 people carried [his] burdens" as he traveled central Africa.
First displayed at the Museum of Ethnography in 2016, Black Atlas comes to Haverford College's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in early 2018 to shift visitors' attention from singular world travelers to the deployment of local labor. A selection of photographs and documents, presented in the form of installations, reveals the infrastructure behind the accumulation of artifacts and the required labor for bringing them to Europe. The exhibition features prominent Swedish collectors such as Eric von Otter, Eric von Rosen, Gerhard Lindblom, and Gösta Montell, as well as the nameless porters and caravan workers who carried their burdens.
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn is a Stockholm-based artist who uses a broad range of media while drawing on archival materials to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism within the framework of feminist theory. She was the first artist-in-residence at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm; this residency was part of SWICH (Sharing a World of Inclusion, Creativity and Heritage), a collaborative project involving 11 European museums of ethnography and world cultures with the aim of creating dialogues on citizenship and belonging in contemporary Europe.
Black Atlas will be on view Jan. 26 through March 9 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. On Friday, February 2, to celebrate the show's opening, there will be an artist talk with Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn at 4:30 p.m. followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. On Thursday, February 8, at 4:30 p.m. in the VCAM Object Study/Media Production Classroom 201, Kate Quinn, director of exhibitions and public programs at the Penn Museum, and Monique Renee Scott, director of the museums studies program at Bryn Mawr College, will moderate a related roundtable discussion, "Crating the World," featuring Brown University Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media Ariella Azoulay, OCAD University Assistant Professor of Art History Gabrielle Moser, and Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn. For further details: exhibits.haverford.edu/blackatlas.
Black Atlas was produced by Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn while in residence at, and with the support of, The Museum of Ethnography/National Museums of World Culture, Sweden. The exhibition is funded by the European Union project SWICH - Sharing a World of Inclusion, Creativity and Heritage with support from Sharjah Art Foundation. Support for its presentation and programming at Haverford College is made possible with support from the Konstnärsnämnden - the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Bryn Mawr College Museum Studies program, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the exhibitions program website: www.haverford.edu/exhibits.
Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa., 19041