Text topic: Narratology
Text author: Ана Сладојевић
The Museum of African Art, Veda and Zdravko Pečar Collection (MAA), was always a specific space of representation, where two main discourses, largely in opposition, intertwined. The first one corresponded with the museum as authority: a Western institution that collects researches and represents cultural heritage. Although this model was openly criticized as colonial (particularly focused onto African collections in Western institutions as product of “colonial plunder”), to embrace it meant to establish the continuity of the MAA within Western representations. The second one that corresponded with the anti-colonial and non-aligned rhetoric of the time tended to shape this museum as an African cultural center, where dynamic exchange with colleagues from African countries would take place: artists in residence, curators, and theoreticians. In this sense, the MAA was supposed to create a unique approach to different topics from African arts and cultures, establishing a close collaboration with experts from Africa, who would take part in the realization and creation of its programmes. Historic circumstances have changed the position the Museum of African Art in Belgrade once held. Bearing in mind that every museum’s image relies upon a sum of different representations that had shaped museums as institutions, and had been shaped by them, it can be concluded that past elements of museum discourse inevitably make part of its current setup. This paper therefore suggests that the anti-colonial narrative in the MAA should be understood and researched as cultural memory in the present. Through contemporary curatorial and artistic interventions in/on the Museum space, of which some excellent examples could be found in the work of curator Dejan Sretenović and artists Zoran Naskovski and Barthélémy Toguo (in the period 2004-2006), an authentic and self-reflective approach both to museum content and its current purpose can be achieved.