Observations: Angolan adventures stuffed and on show
Zoe Pilger (born 1984) is an art critic for The Independent, and winner of the 2011 International Frieze Writer’s Prize. She has written for Frieze and a variety of other publications. She is also researching for a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the subject of sadomasochism and romantic love in the work of Nathalie Djurberg, Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Catherine Breillat, and Mary Gaitskill. She received her BA from Cambridge University in 2007 and her MA from Goldsmiths in 2010
Saturday 26 May 2012
Percy Powell-Cotton ("The Major") was a 19th-century "hunter and collector"; the lion that nearly mauled him to death is displayed here, stuffed, along with a staggering array of other animals, frozen in naturalistic tableaux of attack and retreat. The Major's daughters, Antoinette and Diana, enjoyed a fittingly eccentric childhood, roaming the grounds of Quex House, which, like the museum, is crammed with extravagant objects, ranging from Hindu shrines to Napoleon's clock. But of course the question begs itself: at what price were these riches acquired?
TALA! (meaning "come and see") combines the Powell-Cotton sisters' immense collection of Angolan artefacts with contemporary Angolan artists' work. Among the 3,000 objects hauled back: dolls, butter pots, a "divinity container" filled with bird bones, horns, cocoons, claws, and a hoof.
TALA! Visions of Angola, Powell-Cotton Museum, Birchington, Kent (quexmuseum.org) to 2 November
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