Volkmann-Treffen 2002
12. Oktober 2002
Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde
Maximilianstraße 42 in 80538 München

East is East, and West is West


`East is East, and West is West': contrary to the message of Kipling's famous ballad, there are and always have been exchanges and reciprocal influences between the cultures of the East and the West.
The 2002 Volkmanntreffen, to be held on 12 October in Munich's Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, will concern itself with these interactions and mutual influences on the occasion of an exhibition at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in which textile treasures of the Renaissance and Baroque - Italian silks and European embroideries, tapestries after Petrus Candid and carpets, all from the museum's holdings - will be on display.
For years academics and experts from Turkey, England and Germany have been engaged in a research project, `The Portrait of the Ottoman Sultan'. Their findings were presented in Istanbul in 2000 in a marvellous exhibition accompanied by an important catalogue. Professor Hans Georg Majer, a member of the research group and author of the catalogue, will report on the long-standing encounters between Ottoman and European art.
The curator responsible for the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum's textile collection and for the special exhibition there, Dr Birgitt Borkopp, will explore `the influence of Islamic art on European silks' and the interactions resulting from the intensive trade relationships between East and West. She will elucidate this topic further in the light of actual objects in a special guided tour on the following day, 13 October.

Dr Hedda Reindl-Kiel will give a talk on `cultural conflicts between the Ottoman empire and Europe', as well as on how the solving of these problems bridged the gap between opposites.
Information also reached the West and Europe via books on costumes, more than sixty of which have survived the passage of time. The new director of the Berlin Museum für Islamische Kunst, Professor Claus-Peter Haase, will be reporting on the 'Ottoman costume book in Wolfenbüttel and its European references', demonstrating that textiles and fabrics are illustrated accurately.
Persian and Turkish carpets formed a popular subject in old Dutch paintings. In her dissertation Maria Spitz will examine whether the painted details were as found by the artists and depicted realistically, or whether they were invented and changed by them. She will also attempt to clear up this question of `imitation versus invention' through the example of how household textiles are portrayed in old Dutch paintings.
The Arts and Crafts movement was not just restricted to Europe. Professor Avinoam Shalem, appointed to the newly created chair of history of Islamic art at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich since the 2002 summer term, will provide information about carpet production in Jerusalem in the early 20th century.
East and West are more than the sum of opposites: East and West are interdependent and are linked together by close bonds.

Christian Erber

Copyright © 2002 Christian Erber