"Enlaced and Interwoven" was realized in cooperation with the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at LMU Munich. The exhibition was curated by students as part of a seminar in association with the Museum Fünf Kontinente. It presents examples of traditional indigenous dress and, in the process, turns the spotlight onto historical and current developments, and onto the very act of collecting.
The clothing and adornment from various eras and regions of Latin America in this exhibition room attest to the aesthetics and artistic diversity of indigenous creativity. At the same time, they represent ways of overcoming the challenges posed by the environment and by communal life. Clothing can protect from cold and heat, conceal the wearer from view or attract attention, it can be exclusive or inclusive, and indicate affiliation with a specific group. It has the potential to reflect world views, the balance of power, and economic situations, to visualize historical developments and negotiation processes. Although subject to change, it conveys continuity.
Indigenous philosophers and activists often replace the term America, criticized for being Eurocentric, with Abya Yala, "Land in its full maturity", a term borrowed from the language of the Guna in modern-day Panama. Abya Yala is indicative of the struggle for self-determination and human rights, and of the multifaceted responses of indigenous communities to global markets encroaching on their environments and resources. However, hard-won human rights are again in jeopardy and the increasing pressure on indigenous communities has assumed dimensions that pose an existential threat.
Insight into people and cultures
The exhibition goes further than merely presenting the diverse textile traditions of indigenous groups from eight regions of Latin America. Although the main emphasis is on the design, different colors, and forms of dress, the objects also offer a glimpse into the lives of cultures and people who are currently facing extreme challenges.
The students selected the exhibits themselves from the holdings of the Museum Fünf Kontinente. "It certainly wasn't an easy decision, having to choose from so many fascinating and interesting objects," says Ira Eue, who designed a display cabinet with mask costumes of the Karihona of Columbia for the exhibition. The practical seminar was the perfect complement to her research.