Lisl Ponger has long explored the constructed nature of (cultural) identity, our—often stereotypical— ideas about and images of the “other,” and the associated questions of visual representation. Her art frequently engages with the academic disciplines of ethnology and anthropology, whose methods and politics become manifest in the collection and exhibition practices of ethnographic museums.
In the Secession’s main hall, Ponger will be realizing a project she has wanted to do for a long time: the Museum für fremde und vertraute Kulturen [Museum for Foreign and Familiar Cultures], in short MuKul. The plans for her own (ethnographic) museum represent a culmination of the interests that underlie her art. Although the museum is fictional, its design is based on painstaking research and precise observation. It is an almost disturbingly detailed recreation of real ethnological museums, a growing number of which have recently adopted names such as world museum, museum of cultures, and the like. The exhibits are identified with inventory numbers and places and dates of purchase, and the museum has object and section labels as well as panels listing the museum staff and all lenders. In a bow to popular demand, there is even a Photopoint in the lobby where visitors can pose for pictures in front of a backdrop.