USUS FRUCTUS ABUSUS

Gloria Oyarzabal

2019 - Ongoing

Tervuren, Flanders, Belgium; Madrid, Spain; Cairo, Muḩāfaz̧at al Qāhirah, Egypt; Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

In Roman law,ownership was defined as the absolute full enjoyment over an object or corporeal entity.The USUS was the right that the holder had to make use of the object according to its destination or nature,FRUCTUS was the right to receive the fruits,ABUSUS was the right of disposition based on the power to modify,sell or destroy the object or given entity.Property was perpetual,absolute and exclusive.Based on the concept of property,a two-voice dialogue is proposed,in which questions of spoliation, race and gender are addressed.

The concept of museum was born more than 300 years ago,when the collections of certain monarchs,kings or emperors were opened to the public,being since then institutions that give identity and define a nation.But if the origin of these spaces is colonialist,History,knowledge making,ethics,collective and individual memory come into conflict.A review of the relationship between anthropology and museum collections from a colonial past largely plundering,its historicity and historiography,excused behind a concern for discovery almost always with a "saving" spirit,leads to the conclusion that for decades they’ve reinforced exoticism and distinction,intrinsically related to supremacist discourses.Museums as creators of imaginaries,as institutions that aren’t and have never been a neutral or beneficial holder/exhibitor of objects and artifacts.They are a powerful tool for instilling respect,changing prejudices and revising history.Or dangerously the opposite.

The colonization of the concept of woman:the responsibility for the risky representation of black women in the history of Western painting,the position of white women and black women,the relationship of the African woman's body and identity to the colonist that leads to perpetuating stereotypes,exoticization,cultural appropriation,difference,etc. ...

Key concepts of feminist thought –home,sisterhood,experience,community- point the way to a feminism without borders,fully engaged with the realities of a transnational world.

Return what has been plundered and looted,both in terms of objects and identity,is it an urgent,universal and feasible question for everyone?Ownership,restitution,reparation,recontextualization,.... who has agency to give,return,adjudicate,rename?

From a dialogue of images, pairs are created in search of a visual narrative. Photos of museum showcases, details of archival images, of the dancers of a choreography ... all printed in large format on fluid, thin and semitransparent fabric, mounted on a modular structure as an articulated screen. They are hung facing each other on the back, creating superimpositions against the light, giving each diptych another narrative layer.

As a starting point the painting La Blanche et la Noire by the French-Swiss painter Félix Vallotton (1913, Hahnloser Foundation collection, Villa Flora in Winterthur, Switzerland). A painting inspired by Manet's Olympia and Ingres' Odalisque à l'esclave, it depicts the Sapphic love between a sylph and a black woman. Unlike his predecessors, Vallotton gets rid of all exotic references. A two-voice dialogue emerges between two women reflecting on gender, race, stereotypes, cultural appropriation, exotization and colonialism.

Starting with a recreation that was as faithful to the original as possible, moving on to different situations in which I played with different props , situations and positions, to end up in a more contemporary reflection in which they read books such as "Afrotopia" by Felwine Sarr (co-creator with Benedict Savoy of the report commissioned by French President Macron on the issue of looted objects in French museums, notably the Quay Branly Museum in Paris) or "Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes" by Barnaby Phillips.

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