Cultural Possessions

Hannah Baader and Armin Linke

Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz. © Armin Linke, 2021

 The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation is a complex legal structure that serves as the subject of this art historical and artistic investigation. The Foundation is made up of over twenty different institutions, among them archives, libraries, research institutions as well as sixteen museum complexes, with objects on display, in use, or in storage. As a legal persona, the Foundation holds more than 11 million books, thousands of manuscripts, papyri, textiles, carpets, drawings, paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, vessels and mummies, several million photographs, microfilms, all kinds of sound recordings and millions of files. All this is forming an immense archive of media, materials, and data. The holdings include fragments of buildings, often of monumental scale, as well as immobile heritage in Berlin’s city center and suburbs. The objects kept at the Foundation were made or traded on islands in Polynesia and in the Pacific regions, in East, West, South or Central Asia, in Europe, in North, East, and West Africa, in the Americas, or in the Artic, along rivers, planes or mountains, in cities or at courts, in smaller settlements or historical metropoles. Some of the objects have been contested, for several their legal status has been disputed. Some never left the storage rooms, others attract (or used to attract) thousands of visitors a day. The collaborative project, which includes interviews with curators and other participants, is interested in infrastructures, procedures and practices. Using photography as a documentary, critical and poetic tool, the project invites a reconsideration of cultural possessions and media, across time and space. The project was developed during the pandemic and generated its own archive of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, through the lenses of a scholar and an artist in conversation in 2020/2021.


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