Art & Rite. The power of objects
What do the textiles, sculptures, jewels, masks, amulets, musical instruments, censers and prayer books in our museums tell us? How should we understand the uses and ways of life associated with these objects now they have been removed from their original context and put under the microscope in elaborate museum settings? Although their status has shifted from objects of worship to cultural objects they were all, at one time, used in ritual practices involving beliefs, gestures, words, sounds and smells. All of these elements are part of a set of actions that endow the objects with meaning within a circumscribed space and time, and a particular society.
Art & Rite reveals the beauty and strangeness of these objects which bear witness to the ritual and artistic creativity of human beings. Bringing different cultures into conversation, these objects tell the story of the ritual practices of humanity.
But the publication also interrogates the loss of meaning brought about by "embalming" in a museum and observes a new process of ritualization or re-sacralization through their re-contextualization in a museum environment.
This catalogue, coordinated by Caroline Heering and Anne-Marie Vuillemenot who commissioned the Art & Rite. The power of objects exhibition, also provides a wider platform for the results of the inter-disciplinary works carried out in the framework of the «Teaching and research at the heart of the Museum-laboratory» project (Louvain 2020 – UCLouvain).