Federico Freschi Executive Dean, Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg, invites you to the exhibition and seminar of Recast | Recontextualising the Classical Casts in the University of Johannesburg Collection held at University of Johannesburg FADA Building from 20-28 March 2018.
As uncomfortable reminders of an era when culture was didactic, elitist and emphatically Eurocentric, they present obvious challenges for curators, interpreters and historians alike. Thus, it is hardly surprising that where collections of classical objects (or plaster casts) exist in South African public institutions, they have been at best marginalized or relegated to storage, and at worst destroyed.
This exhibition, curated by Federico Freschi (Executive Dean, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture) aims to open a debate around these objects, and to consider what we might learn from them. If, as the Museum of Classical Archeology at the University of Cambridge claims, “Every cast tells two stories. One ancient. One modern”, the existence of a comprehensive and intact collection of classical plaster casts at a South African university widely celebrated for its achievements in transformation raises the interesting potential to provide additional narratives as we seek to make sense of their past(s), present and future. The exhibition and the seminar accompanying it (led by Grant Parker, Chair, Department of Classics, Stanford University and with a response by Anna Tietze, University of Cape Town) will provide an opportunity for dialogue and thoughtful engagement with these objects, disentangling them from their associations with Eurocentric didacticism, and recasting them as complex objects whose avatars have had a long and profound impact on the shaping of humanist philosophical thought.