– Autumn/Winter 2014

Five Images of an Image: The Museum of African Art in Belgrade

Anders Kreuger

Archival photograph of the entrance to the Museum of African Art, Belgrade, featuring a Ghanaian fishing boat given as a gift to Dr Zdravko Pečar in 1975 by the leader of Mankoadze, the village where it was constructed and used. Courtesy the Museum of African Art

One: The Image-Object-Body

If pure recollection is already spirit, and if pure perception is still in some sense matter, we ought to be able, by placing ourselves at their meeting place, to throw some light on the reciprocal action of spirit and matter. ‘Pure’, that is to say, instantaneous perception is, in fact, only an ideal, an extreme. Every perception fills a certain depth of duration, prolongs the past into the present, and thereby partakes of memory. So that if we take perception, in its concrete form, as a synthesis of pure memory and pure perception, that is to say, of mind and matter, we compress within its narrowest limits the problem of the union of soul and body. — Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory1

This understanding of perception as something always alloyed with memory, laid out by Bergson in Matter and Memory, rests on a cunning refusal to specify the differences between image, object and body in common-sense terms: ‘I call matter the aggregate of images, and perception of matter these same images referred to

  1. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory (1896, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer), New York: Zone Books, 1988, p.244.

  2. Ibid., p.22.

  3. Ibid., p.25.

  4. See H. Bergson, ‘Memory of the Present and False Recognition’, in Mind–Energy (1908, trans. H. Wildon Carr), New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920, pp.165—67.

  5. Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life (1978, trans. Johnny Lorenz), New York: New Directions, 2012, p.43.

  6. Živorad Kovačević, ‘Ouverture du Musée d’Art Africain — événement culturel et politique’, in Musée d’Art Africain, Collection Veda et Dr Zdravko Pečar, Belgrade: Beograd-Publik, 1977, p.4. Translation the author’s.

  7. See the museum’s website: www.museumofafricanart.org (last accessed on 4 August 2014).

  8. See Ana Sladojević, ‘Museum as the Image of the World: The Space of Representations of Identity and Ideology', unpublished doctoral thesis, Belgrade: University of Arts in Belgrade, Interdisciplinary Studies, Group for Theory of Art and Media, 2008—12.

  9. A. Sladojević, ‘The Museum of African Art in Belgrade and Its Anti-Colonial Discourse', unpublished and undated research paper, Belgrade: University of Arts in Belgrade, p.5.

  10. Biographical data adapted from Muzej afričke umetnosti: Zbirka Vede i Dr Zdravka Pečara/Musée d’Art Africain: Collection Veda et Dr Zdravko Pečar/Museum of African Art: The Veda and Dr Zdravko Pečar Collection, Belgrade and Gornji Milanovac: Museum of African Art/Dečje novine, 1989, p.569.

  11. A. Sladojević, ‘The Museum of African Art in Belgrade and Its Anti-Colonial Discourse', op. cit., p.1.

  12. No one appears to have known Tito’s exact birthdate. It was officially celebrated as if he had been born on 25 May 1892, although 7 May has been proposed as the ‘more authentic’ birthday.

  13. Jelena Aranđelović-Lazić, ‘Le Musée d’Art Africain à Belgrade’, in Musée d’Art Africain, Collection Veda et Dr Zdravko Pečar, Belgrade: Beograd-Publik, 1977, p.52. Translation the author’s. In the 1989 catalogue, published on the occasion of the second Belgrade conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, more than 1,200 objects are listed and illustrated.

  14. English transcript of the speech made available through the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, Washington DC, on http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-104-004.aspx (last accessed on 16 July 2014).

  15. ‘Unedited History: Iran 1960—2014’, co-curated by Odile Burluraux, Catherine David, Morad Montazami, Narmine Sadeg and Vali Mahlouji, at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (16 May—24 August 2014) includes a rather comprehensive section on the Persepolis Festival and MACBA in Barcelona is planning a project about the ‘Art for Palestine’ exhibition, while Chimurenga presented their research on FESTAC77, held in Lagos, at the San Francisco Public Library from 24 May until 29 June 2014.

  16. See http://www.mij.rs/en/exhibitions/197/travelling-communique.html (last accessed on 4 August 2014). ‘Travelling Communiqué’, Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade, 10 June—14 August 2014.

  17. Translated from the Serbo-Croat by Ana Sladojević.

  18. See Dejan Sretenović, Crno telo, bele maske (exh. cat.), Belgrade: Museum of African Art, Collection of Veda and Dr Zdravko Pečar, 2004.