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Talk Niklas Wolf KNIR Vodun’s Visuals

Talk Niklas Wolf KNIR Vodun’s Visuals

In February 2024 Niklas Wolf participated in the international workshop „Missionary Material Assemblages and the Mission of Museums: The Spirit on Display“ held at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR). 

The workshop was organised by Ana Rita Amaral, being part of the „Religious Matters in an Entangled World“-Project at Utrecht University (Birgit Meyer et al.) and focused „(…) on the past and present entanglements between Christian evangelisation and the manifold practices associated with making collections and arranging them in museums and exhibitions“, including visits to the Vatican’s Missionary-Ethnological Museum, now called the Ethnological Museum Anima Mundi as well as the Museo della Civiltà “Luigi Pigorini”.

Giving a talk on “The Museum as Shrine. The Shrine as Museum?” „Niklas Wolf (University of Zürich) spoke about his research on ‘Vodun’s Visuals’, focusing on terminology and display, within a series of shrines and museums in Ghana and Germany. Niklas elaborated on the spatial settings, often shrines with rich ‘pictorial programs’ on the walls, where Vodun can live in ‘tangible form’ and ‘where they are treated, fed and interacted with’, practices that approximate such spaces to museums. The latter, in turn, can sometimes accommodate the reinstallation and display of shrines and altars, raising questions about spiritual efficacy, aesthetic contemplation, and the nature of the practices that take place both in shrines and museums.“

see:; photo: Deborah Dainese)

Talk Spiritual Ways and Workings Niklas Wolf

Talk Spiritual Ways and Workings Niklas Wolf

Terms like “fetish”, “fetishism”, “fetish priest” have been used by scholars and researchers in the past to misleadingly alienate and demonise performative practices of Vodun and their use of tangible manifestations. Often following religious and political agendas of colonialism, they couldn’t be further from any truth related to Vodun’s understanding of visual epistemologies and practices as well as their imagery.

As part of the exhibition “Im Rausch(en) der Dinge. Fetisch in der Kunst” (“Intoxicating Objects. Fetishism in Art”) held at Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich, Niklas Wolf will present on Spiritual Ways and Workings. Zu performativen Praktiken und materiellen Manifestationen westafrikanischer Vodun (“Spiritual Ways and Workings. On the Performative Practices and Material Manifestations of West African Vodun”).

Where: Institute for Art History, Zurich University

When: Tuesday, 30th April, 6.30 – 7.30 pm

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