The Other

The joint exhibition of the Musée d'ethnographie de Geneve (MEG), the Museum of Ethnography and the Artemisszió Foundation 27/Sep/2008 - 6/Apr/2009
The exhibition opening on 27 of September in Budapest is a follow-up on the original idea of the Museum of Ethnography of Geneva and is based on the famous work by Claude Lévi-Strauss published in 1952 by UNESCO under the title Race and History.

In the paper, Lévi-Strauss sets out to deconstruct racial and ethnic prejudices as well as to refute the ideology of racism. Despite the time that has passed since the original publication of the text, his ideas are still relevant today and resonate with a unique currency to the key questions of today's modern societies.

The exhibition deals with the experience of the diversity of cultures and presents the variety of obstacles standing in our way to encounter the Other. Even though it sheds light on universal phenomena, it narrates the history of this encounter from a uniquely European perspective. The milestones of this history are marked by the fantastic reports of the first travelers, the "discovery" and conquest of America, colonization, the birth of the science of anthropology, the rise to dominance of the ideology of racism - and its subsequent downfall, and finally, the recurring exoticization of the Stranger. The latest chapter of this history, which is about coexistence, is being written today.

The rich and dynamic construction of the exhibition brings visitors face to face with the complexity of human relationships. Its material is made up of the vast and colorful ethnographic collections of the museums of Geneva and Budapest and other European museums, historical documents as well as contemporary pieces of art.

Walking through the exhibition halls we get to know the concepts that Western culture has created about peoples deemed different (often seen as barbarian, primitive or simply inferior). At the same time the visitor also has to face the not so flattering image that is mirrored in the gaze of the other turned toward us. This journey helps us understand that if we learn to look at ourselves from the outside, from a distance, it becomes easier to accept the other. In turn, we also need the other so that we can create a less biased image of ourselves.

Edina Földessy
Diana Szántó

The exhibition is part of the EUROPEAN YEAR OF INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE 2008