(Un)known Lives of Objects: From Nigeria to the Tang Collection

(Un)Known Lives of Objects features a selection of objects from the Tang Collection that were originally created in the territory of Nigeria. Displaying these objects for the first time, the exhibition explores their complex journeys from West Africa to Saratoga Springs.

This exhibition looks closely at the possible lives of these objects in North America and Europe. While it would be impossible to verify complete trajectories for each object, more general histories can be traced by exploring the shared fate of many objects from Africa. To illustrate different moments in these object’s lives, the exhibition displays them in four distinct settings: a home, a retail store, an art museum and an anthropology and ethnography museum.

These objects were initially created by their maker with a specific intent and purpose that differed significantly from how colonial cultures used and understood them. The settings reflect various ways people in North America have thought about these objects, and, in turn, those who made them. By looking at these objects’ lives, which, in some cases, have included traveling from ceremonial altars to retail spaces to private living rooms to museums, the exhibition asks visitors to consider how context shapes our understanding of objects and people from cultures other than our own.
Exhibition Name
(Un)known Lives of Objects: From Nigeria to the Tang Collection
Exhibition Type
Student Curated
Group Exhibitions
State Farm Mezzanine Gallery
Sep 28, 2013 - Dec 28, 2013
(Un)Known Lives of Objects is organized by Ayelen Pagnanelli, class of 2014, Skidmore College, Exhibitions Assistant.
Student Interview: Ayelen Pagnanelli ‘14
Tang Museum student interview with Pagnanelli on her experience curating the exhibition (Un)known Lives of Objects: From Nigeria to the Tang Collection
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