Lecture by Roger M. Buergel
Curator; Curator Documenta 12, Director Johan Jacobs Museum Zurich
The migration of form
Certain things can be regarded as prisms in which the world reveals itself in the play of their global refractions. Seventeenth-century Persian ceramics, for instance, which imitate Chinese porcelain. Or the “Black Madonnas” that travelled to Haiti with Polish mercenaries at the end of the 18th century.
Objects like these need to be regarded in a way that places less emphasis on their discreteness than on their place in the design of things: they are parts of a historical and political network of relations. This relational network – a tableau comprising colonial wars, Oriental fantasies, a genuine love of special items and trading monopolies – has still to be examined in depth.