Verena Kittel — Chronopolitics of Modernity: The Constitution of Non-Temporalities in Anni Albers’ and Lina Bo Bardi’s Collections of „Popular“ and „Pre-Columbian Art“

The engagement with non-European cultures was crucial to many Western artist circles of the 1920s, such as the Weaving Workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. In her paper, Verena Kittel aims at revealing the conflictuality of such practices at art educational institutions that were inspired by core principles of the German art school, reflected in the narratives, images of history, and forms of heritage created in the process. In particular, she sheds light on Anni Albers’ collection of Meso-American and Andean items during her time at Black Mountain College (BMC) in the early 1940s and Lina Bo Bardi’s collection of vernacular objects that formed the basis for her Museu de Arte Popular (MAP) in Bahia, Brazil, in the early 1960s. By examining Albers’ 1970 collection catalogue Pre-Columbian Mexican Miniatures, but also artworks such as the household jewelry she created with BMC student Alex Reed in the early 1940s, as well as Lina Bo Bardi’s magazine Habitat (1951-69) and the exhibition Nordeste (1963) at the MAP, Kittel shows that both Albers and Bo Bardi by detaching the collected objects from their historical background and original creators freeze them into a non-temporality, transforming the items into projection surfaces for their aesthetic principles. She argues that Albers’ and Bo Bardi’s collections thus demonstrate a chronopolitical approach that first served as a confirmation of the objects’ artistic value and celebration of their techniques and the culture they stem from, but ultimately casts the latter as an eternally present “other,” depriving the communities they originally belonged to any interpretative sovereignty over their cultural, aesthetic, and identitarian meaning and thus excluding and devaluating their perspectives.

Verena Kittel

Verena Kittel is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Annette Jael Lehmann and research assistant for the project “Images of History in Contemporary Art” led by Prof. Dr. Melanie Franke at Universität Potsdam. From 2015 to 2021, she has been research associate to several interdisciplinary, collaborative projects between the Freie Universität Berlin and exhibition institutions, most notably “Tacit Knowledge. Post Studio/Feminism – CalArts (1970–77)” with Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, and metaLAB (at) Harvard (2018–21), and “Black Mountain Research” with Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin (2013–16). Furthermore, she worked as student assistant to Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Löhr at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz of the Max-Planck-Institut in 2015. From 2015–18 she was assistant curator to Eva Birkenstock for the Performance Project of the LISTE – Art Fair Basel. Verena Kittel holds a BA with distinction in Art History and Applied Cultural Sciences from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and a MA in Art History in a Global Context from the Freie Universität Berlin.


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