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Unsettled Objects
Between 1968 and 1970, Lothar Baumgarten undertook a systematic photographic study of how several European ethnographic museums frame the viewer's perception through the manner in which their objects are displayed. The eighty Ektachromes that comprise Baumgarten's slide projection Unsettled Objects show artifacts at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, displayed much as they were when it was opened to the public in 1874. Removed from their original context and function, cluttered in display cases, shackled to their descriptive labels, these objects invite an aesthetic--and exotic--appraisal, effectively becoming something else. Baumgarten suggests that this frame of reference deprives the object of its original nature and causes the object to be "displayed, imagined, classified, reinvented, generalized...."
Lothar Baumgarten.
Unsettled Objects. 1968-69.

Series of slide projections. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. Photo: courtesy the artist

  ©1999 The Museum of Modern Art, New York MoMA