Paradoxurus adustus / Auf frischer Tat
Fernando Bryce comes to the Museum für Naturkunde from the twin perspectives of cultural history and global politics. His two-part work addresses not only the museum’s systems of ordering and classifying but also imagery relating to natural history research in the early twentieth century.
While conducting his research in the museum, Bryce came across a cardboard box containing labels which had once been attached to objects, drawers, and cabinets in the Mammal collection. Giving the name of the genus or species and details of collectors or geographical origins, these defunct relics, some of which are incomplete, evince a unique lyricism. Bryce has combined the labels with inventories, another hitherto largely neglected medium for cataloguing items in collections, to create a large-format series of pen-and-ink drawings and screen prints. “Paradoxurus adustus” not only pays homage to seemingly inconspicuous “museum things”, but also communicates visually how natural history seeks to understand and appropriate the world.
Bryce likewise applies his technique of translating historical texts and images into pen-and-ink drawings, enlarging and rearranging the material in his second series “Auf frischer Tat”, which looks at the representation of natural science in early twentieth-century media. This time he trawled the museum archive and various libraries to locate historical sources such as newspaper articles, expedition reports, portraits of researchers, and popular science journals. By selecting individual images from these materials and relating them to one another, he creates new contexts and reveals the political and cultural dimensions of natural science.
Fernando Bryce is one of the most influential contemporary Peruvian artists. His large-scale series of pictures address the representation of history in twentieth-century media. Bryce lives and works in New York and Berlin. Curatorial support: Anita Hermannstädter