If You Happen To Be In Berlin

The phased opening of Humboldt Forum, a museum in Berlin, includes this exhibit, and of course a beautiful book to boot.

An interesting feature, in the form of an editorial on the museum’s website can help put this exhibit in context. The goal of this museum is anti-colonial, among other things, according to the museum’s editorial:

According to the people behind the project, the partial reconstruction of Berlin’s historic palace was an expression of the power to mend, to repair the urban fabric and the historical associations enshrined in the space it occupies.

Which is unusual for a well-funded museum in a wealthy country to say. So, this book looks interesting from multiple angles, and the text describing the book is a hint at that:

The elephant is an admired but also endangered animal. In all times and cultures, the ivory of its tusks has been sought after. What kind of material is it, how is it used in history and the present, and what can be done today to protect the largest land mammals from poaching? This richly illustrated volume undertakes a cultural-historical journey and a current positioning. Ivory fascinates  and polarises.

As far back as 40,000 years ago, humans were using mammoth tusks to create sophisticated representational figures and musical instruments. The popularity of the material continues to this day. But the tusks from these animals also represent injustice and violence: ivory is inextricably linked with the exploitation of both people and nature, the threat of elephant extinction, poaching and organised crime. This publication approaches the subject critically. It portrays the historical significance of the material and poses questions about our reponsibility towards the animal itself and towards our dealings with the past.

Published by Hirmer Verlag, 2021, 200 pages, 180 illustrations, 29,90 Euro.

The publication will soon be available in the Online shop.


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