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African art in the spotlight at the Barbier-Mueller Museum

Posted 10 | 04 | 2019
Categories Art, Events, Geneva

No fewer than 200 guests were present on Thursday, April 4, at the invitation of SPG Finest Properties and Christie’s, for a private reception on the occasion of the exposition “Asen: Forged Memories of Iron in Dahomey Vodun Art” at the Barbier-Mueller Museum.

The museum devoted a special exposition to asen, portable wrought-iron altars originating from the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey (south of the current Republic of Benin). The exposition was the brainchild of Dr Suzanne Preston Blier and addresses various themes with the goal of arriving at a better understanding of these remarkable sculptures. The results are impressive.


From left to right: Konstantinos Dambassinas, Marie Barbier-Mueller, Valentine Barbier-Mueller, Claude Atallah, Eveline de Proyart and Thierry Barbier-Mueller.


Here, you’ll discover the different uses of an asen, which, in its simplest form, is an altar staked into the ground of the asenxo (the ‘asen hut’) where deceased family members are commemorated in yearly ceremonies. In the traditions of the region, asen were also closely associated with rituals of healing, protection and divination, as well as the transmission of knowledge between the spirit world and the terrestrial world—in the Vodun temples, among other contexts.

The guests of SPG Finest Properties and Christie’s had the pleasure of discovering the passionate and often surprising history of these objects.


Asen from the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey.


The exposition took place at the Barbier-Mueller Museum between November 21, 2018 and May 26, 2019.

More information about the next expositions.