In the sixth and last session of this season’s research colloquium Jana Eske will talk about the diorama:

The diorama is a dying species. Through its silent disappearance from the museums, a part of history is fading away that has shaped our world-view to the present days. Developed as a simulation of reality in the 19th century and a fundamental element of natural history and ethnographic museums, looking at dioramas has always fascinated audiences. Thus, Dioramas have become exhibits of obsolete regimes of the gaze, which can tell us how we have learned to see the world. The diorama is therefore an ambivalent tool of memory: fallen out of time and increasingly invisible, it nevertheless remains a powerful instrument that creates meaning. What can the remaining dioramas tell us about our past? What shall and must a diorama provide today and for the future? How could the diorama of the 21st century look like?

(Extract from the project Staging Dioramas by Stefan Aue, Jana Eske, Jessica Páez)

— What is a diorama?
Ethnografische Modelle (German)

— Look at any familiar object in the room. Please bring one object which is related to the representation of your (working) culture in order to discuss parameters like time, authorship and order.

What does the word represenation really mean? What does the process of representation involve? How does representation work?

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary suggests two relevant meanings for the word:
1. To represent something is to describe or depict it, to call it up in the mind by description or portrayal or imagination: to place a likeness of it before us in our mind or in the senses; as, for example, in the sentence, ‘This picture represents the murder of Abel by Cain’.
2. To represent also means to symbolize, stand for, to be a specimen of, or to substitute for; as in the sentence, ‘In Christianity, the cross represents the suffering and crucifixion of Christ’

— If you find the time, please also take a look at this text extract:
Stuart Hall (1997), Representation – Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Introduction (PDF)

Staging dioramas is a project by the curators Stefan Aue, Jana Eske, Jessica Páez together with Simone Dede Ayivi (theater maker), Yorgos Sapountzis (visual artist) and Benjamin Zachariah (historian).

Part of Staging diorama was a three-day co-working process Staging diorama:The (Re)Staging on June 25th / 27th as well as a lecture and workshop program Memory – Representation – Fiction. The role of dioramas in museums of cultural history in the Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig on April 23rd / 24th, 2015. Special thanks to the staff of the museum, who supported the preliminary research for this project.

Staging diorama is a project in the framework of the masters program Cultures of the Curatorial at Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. With the friendly support of Dresden State Art Collections, Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig, the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi and Grüntaler9 – a space towards the performative.

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