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Mapping Cultural Space Across Eurasia

Statues Also Die

Extending upon the Greater Fill in the Blank section, and staying in Africa for a moment, what better way to begin a discussion on the exploitation of foreign objects history than with the 1953 French essay film, Les Statues Meurent Aussi (Statues Also Die) directed by avant-garde filmmaker Chris Marker in collaboration with Alain Resnais. This film addresses a systematized fetishization of traditional art from sub-Saharan Africa and the then complex relationship between these objects, Colonization and how these objects lose their meaning (they metaphorically die) when placed in museums or collected by individuals as an objet d'art.

What drives this essay film is the manner in which it depicts the very complex relationship of ‘origin’, a central issue to map-making as well. 

What interests me about Marker’s film is the way in which these objects are representative of a culture and how we then treat these objects as a relational placement holder much like our genome: a space defined by an attachment to a group or region, or as the representative suggests, ‘your results are a living analysis’. But when these objects are purchased how do the dealers and auction houses show their actual movement through time and space?  Arrows no longer play a part in suggesting their movement, nor do they trace the origin of the materials used in these objects either. Instead the ‘true significance’ of these objects is surmised by scholars, who are not tracking their movement from Place A to Place B but instead their movement from Hand A to Hand B.  A list of the object’s previous owners supplant the places the  physical object has actually been instead becoming a new narrative full of gaps, mapping its travel through space and time by ownership and attachment to authority.