Art Handling in Oblivion

A Catalogue about Conspiracy, Theft, Possession and Heritage.

Art Handling in Oblivion assembles five art collections that have been stolen during wartime, either by regimes or organized individuals. Seizure of art is one of most hidden and underestimated objectives of war. Behind conquering campaigns lurk hidden stories of deprived cultural heritage and devastation of the enemy’s cultural identity. Bringing home the enemy’s treasures is first of all a tangible proof of strength and victory. The booty entails an enrichment of the very own culture and shifts the composition and reclassification of cultural heritage on a global scale. Most of the discussed collections have been found and restituted, others are still in hostile possession or missing.

The catalogue does not pursue to answer questions of restitution, but evokes discussion by contextualizing the objectives and procedures of wartime art looting.

The glued catalogues are cut open on a predefined spot on the table. The central part of the display is designed for consultation and reading, and on the other end envelopes with copies addressed to the concerned museums are placed.

This project was conceived by Rob van Leijsen as a graduation project at the Master Design Spaces & Communication at Head Genève (Haute École d’Art et de Design).