Reading Objects in the Contact Zone
How to cite this chapter

Page, Westrey: Translating Prehistory, in: Troelenberg, Eva-Maria, Schankweiler, Kerstin and Messner, Anna Sophia (Eds.): Reading Objects in the Contact Zone, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2021 (Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality, Vol. 9). https://doi.org/10.17885/heiup.766.c10411

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ISBN 978-3-96822-049-9 (PDF)
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Published 10.06.2021.


Westrey Page

Translating Prehistory

Empathy and Rock Painting Facsimiles in the New York Museum of Modern Art

Abstract Taking the 1937 MoMA exhibition “Prehistoric Rock Pictures in Europe and Africa” as its starting point, this chapter examines how Alfred H. Barr’s exhibitionary practice interacted with the cultural theory of German ethnologist Leo Frobenius to render images of a pluralistic Otherness—here referring to cultures and people distanced by time, geography, or both simultaneously—empathetically accessible. This empathetic engage­ment—both in the galleries and in the translation of rock art in the field—is investigated as an approximating strategy that has deeper ramifications for the object in the contact zone.

Keywords Leo Frobenius, Alfred H. Barr, MoMA, Facsimile, Copying, Prehistoric Rock Painting, Othering, Translation, Empathy