Dogon Exhibition

The Völkerkunde Museum (Museum of Anthropology) is showing an exhibition about the Dogon. My mother was invited to the opening, and I came along. The show was short but quite nice; a pre-programme was supplied by a bunch of kids playing bongo drums. Then, the cultural ataché of the Malawi embassy in Germany made a short speech; followed by a lengthy but really very nice introduction to the region and culture of the Dogon by Mr. Prinz, former German ambassador to Mali, and concluded by an introduction by the (german) woman who set the exhibition up. I can’t remember her, but she wore a really flashy outfit (something native to the region I presume).

The staff had invited a priest from the Dogon to perform a ceremony at the opening of the exhibit. Unfortunately, Ogokongo (I think that was his name) was barerd entry into the EU on the grounds of not having 750 Euros cash on his person. I’m once again surprised at the stupidity and laziness of our EU bureaucrats. The least they could have done is check with the museum before sending the good priest back to Africa.

The exhibition itself is quite interesting. It consists of a number of photographs of the region, several statues and figurines – and a large number of images from a local artist – done on modern A4 sized paper and felt-tip pens. They were … interesting, but the exhibition was seemingly a little much weighed in their favor.

There are several other items, cloth for example, and some sort of setup on the floor made of sand and – peanuts! Here lies my main criticism with the exhibition: The signs for stuff that was laid out on the floor (like the sandy peanuts, but also some baskets etc) were so hard to read that even people with good eyes had to bend down.

There were supposed to be short films on a few TV screens which the organizer said were an “important part” of being able to understand the Dogon culture; sadly, however, they were switched off.

The exhibition simply isn’t big enough to warrant a trip to the museum just for the sake of it; but it was quite okay and if you are considering a trip to the museum anyway you might as well catch it, especially if African culture is your thing.

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