In Benjaminian termins, the Abstract Cabinet can be described as a space that, paradoxically, achieves the detachment of aura from the works of art exhibited in it by investing visitor interaction with aura. This tension that made Lissitzky’s installation such an interesting case for contemporary artistic and curatorial practices is further accentuated by the art historical canonization of the space. The primal space was deconstructed in the 1930s under the pressure of the cultural political campaigns of the nazi regime and re-erected as late as in 1968. The ‘Abstract Cabinet’ is on view in a secondary reconstruction of 1979 as part of the permanent collection of the Sprengel Museum. The museum’s logic transformed it into a gesamtkunstwerk, in opposition to a space dedicated to the spectator’s experience. An object, that today is the subject of conservational considerations on the basis of interpreting the historical documents on the space.To what extent is the Abstract Cabinet’s claim of participation compatible with its musealization? Do non-morphological aspects of the space have to be taken into account when it comes to its preservation? And how can an original state be postulated, when even the complex form of the installation is only fragmentarily conveyed in photographs, construction sketches and drawings? How can its initial mission be experienced again by contemporary visitors? Which methods and media could be employed to re-activate the Abstract Cabinet?
This anthology presents a selection of essays addressing these questions from the perspective of art history and curatorial studies. Please note that as of now, the texts (apart from Steven ten Thije's) are only available in German and Russian; an English translation is forthcoming.
Carolin Anda/Yvonne Bialek/Cornelia Durka/Alexander Karpisek/Natascha Pohlmann/Philipp Sack
Steven ten Thije
© 2016 Braunschweig University of Art and Sprengel Museum Hannover