Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik

Zentralinstitut der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

BINDING BODIES. Perspectives on Bound Feet

Starting in 2021, the Tieranatomisches Theater will launch the three-year research and exhibition project “Binding Bodies. Perspectives on Bound Feet” in cooperation with MARKK – Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg and the Kunstuniversität Linz.

This is made possible by generous funding from the German Federal Cultural Foundation (project description Binding Bodies), the Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung and the Alfred Töpfer Stiftung.

From 2021 to 2023, an interdisciplinary team will conduct research at the Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik / Tieranatomisches Theater, MARKK and the Kunstuniversität Linz in cooperation with other international scientists and artists. The project will conclude with exhibitions that will be shown at MARKK Hamburg (2022) and the Tieranatomisches Theater (2023), among others.

Numerous ethnographic and anatomical collections in Europe contain preparations, casts, X-ray images and photos of so-called “lotus feet”, the bound feet of women in China. The research and exhibition project BINDING BODIES takes these collections as the starting point for research into the discourse history of female body modifications. Already Hans Virchow (1852-1940) and his colleagues draw comparisons to lace dancing, high heels and corsets in their publications. The project attempts an “entangled history” of female body deformations between Europe and China. It examines the complex interactions of self-perceptions and perceptions of others, reconstructs exemplary object biographies and contextualises them against the background of colonial, gender, social and scientific history. Thus, the project is also part of the current controversy about the handling of ethnographic objects and especially human remains in scientific collections.

Curators: Prof. Dr. Jasmin Mersmann (project leader), Dr. Evke Rulffes, Felix Sattler
Project Management Organisation: Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Partners: Museum am Rothenbaum. Cultures and Arts of the World (MARKK), Prof. Dr Barbara Plankensteiner, Dr Susanne Knödel, Gabriel Schimmeroth

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