Exhibiting Bushman Art in Switzerland

Revisiting the Curatorial Process of the Exhibition "Kuru. L’art d’un monde en mutation"

  • Leïla Baracchini Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – MNHN Paris
  • Blaise Mulhauser Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel
  • Elodie Gaille Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel
Keywords: contemporary San/Bushman art, exhibition, inclusive museography, Switzerland

Abstract

This article discusses the collaborative process that led to the conception of the exhibition Kuru. L’art d’un monde en mutation held in 2019 at the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel,Switzerland. This project, which brought together San Naro artists from Botswana, anthropologists and museum professionals, aimed to rethink the museum’s approach to contemporary San art and to develop more inclusive modes of exhibition. This article documents the strategies of representation of the Self and the Other mobilized in this context and proposes a reflection on the contributions, the stakes and the limits of this collaboration at the intersection of art, anthropology and botany. It highlights the unintended effects, constant adaptations, and persistent asymmetries at work in the exchanges, and discusses the value of making sense of these interactional dynamics within the museum space.

Author Biographies

Leïla Baracchini, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – MNHN Paris

Leïla Baracchini holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and Art Theory from the University of Neuchâtel and the EHESS, Paris. Her researches focus on the politics of representation in a context of globalisation and on the processes of commodification of culture and identity. Her doctoral thesis was rewarded with the thesis prize of the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac 2019. Since 2010, she works in Southern Africa on the cultural transfers involved in the making of contemporary San art.

Blaise Mulhauser, Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel

Blaise Mulhauser is a biologist and scientific ecologist (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). After 18 years as curator at the Natural History Museum of Neuchâtel, he’s actually director of the botanical Garden of the same city since 2011. In addition to his academic work, he’s also an exhibition designer. He is the author of numerous books and catalogs, including the one on the citizen exhibition Objets de cultures. Ces plantes qui nous habitent written with Elodie Gaille (Ed. Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel).

Elodie Gaille, Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel

Elodie Gaille is a social anthropologist (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). She completed her training with botanical studies and a grade in applied ethnobotany at the University of Lille (France). Since 2017, she’s curator at the botanical Garden of Neuchâtel. Her researches focus on plant uses around the world and on the history of medicinal plants in the French part of Switzerland. In 2021, in collaboration with Blaise Mulhauser she wrote the book Infusions des savoirs. Histoires de plantes médicinales à travers le monde (Ed. Jardin botanique de Neuchâtel).

Published
2022-04-05
How to Cite
Baracchini, Leïla, Blaise Mulhauser, and Elodie Gaille. 2022. “Exhibiting Bushman Art in Switzerland: Revisiting the Curatorial Process of the Exhibition ‘Kuru. L’art d’un Monde En Mutation’”. TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association 27 (April):16-39. https://doi.org/10.36950/tsantsa.2022.27.7787.