At the Neues Museum, the sub-level of the museum holds the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection). This exhibition gives visitors insight into what it looked like during ancient times. The Neues Museum, like many institutions of its kind, acquired the artifacts displayed in this collection either directly or indirectly from a process of theft. Yet, the genius and beauty of the work of this civilization are almost blinding despite the immoral and unethical practices from which the Neues did acquire these artifacts. From the artisans to the engineers, it is present that there is a level of mastery and intelligence in each field. During Christ’s existence, they had already invented combs, makeup applicators, handheld mirrors, and more. One of the most distinct inferences to note about the artisans of this civilization is that they were collaborative rather than individualistic. In a sculpture of the God Amun Ra in the form of a Ram with a Pharaoh, the sculpture not only holds beauty after withstanding hundreds of years of weathering and erosion, but it also contains information that this piece was made by more than one sculptor. In the ears, you can see that each one had its slight difference in its texture, yet still lays seamlessly into the rest. The impact of these tools is present today, exemplifying a way these ancient Black civilizations’ technology impacts the current day. Further, it is one of the many few representations of ancient Black civilizations to date, creating what can be argued as a form of resistance and counter-storytelling, largely when juxtaposed with the popular narratives that have been manipulated around descendants of Africa, especially in America where the media has propagated the idea of the lazy Black American since before the release of A Birth of a Nation in 1915.
Kaléa Daniels is a senior Studio Art major attending Colorado College from Hollis, New York. They are an Afrofuturist artist with a focus on sculpture who operates through her art as a window of healing. Kaléa is inspired by reparation work, funk, and soul music. In his free time, Kaléa enjoys reading, dancing, and designing.
Upon attending the Neues Museum, I was blown away by the tomb walls, the coffins, the book of the dead scroll, the mask, and much more. This experience really helped me see how marginalized people have always honored the ones who came before them. When I think about the way afterlife exist for BIPoC communities, it is often centered around the idea of being dead together. Dead together also meaning no longer suffering together. The piece we read this week about counter-story telling, “Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research” by Daniel G. Solórzano and Tara J. Yosso, impacted my experience of the museum. I was seeing ways Egyptians told their stories and kept them alive with the use of the Book of the Dead, with miniature statues of Gods, with the symbolic carvings onto coffins, with the offerings on tomb walls. It was fascinating to see how common symbols that held after-life meanings were reused in a multitude of ways that produced a narrative. I am quite unfamiliar with marginalized communities in Germany at this point, but the art I saw reminded me they are still here and community amongst one another is valuable. Using counter stories to embrace one another is a survival tactic in some ways, but also has its roots in history.
P.S. All the jewelry was so beautiful, and the gold hoops were iconic!
Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado was named after her matriarchal grandmother Gloria, and many family members call her Gloria or Flaca. She was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and raised in Long Beach, California. She grew up with a Mexican stepfather, though, so she would consider herself culturally mixed. She’s the oldest immigrant daughter and a first-generation high school graduate. She got her passport just this year, and is now studying in Berlin—so needless to say, she is (and about to be!) a well-travelled girl!