More Than A Subject
Custom Fabrication, Styling
ETC was a part of an artistic commission with the MUNCH Museum of Oslow, Norway in their exhibition ‘Call Me by My Name’. In conjunction with the exhibition Call Me by My Name, MUNCH has invited director Gabriella Moses to interpret Edvard Munch’s painting of Sultan Abdul Karem with a green scarf into a film.
In the movie More than a Subject, Moses explores the experience of having to perform blackness and how being observed as an artistic subject shape one’s sense of identity. One of the pictures in the museum’s collection has long been known by the title Negro with Green Scarf. The picture is a portrait of a man of African origin, whom Edvard Munch met while visiting Hagenbeck’s Circus, a German touring circus that came to Oslo in 1916. Munch painted several pictures of this man, who at the circus went by the name of Sultan Abdul Karem. When Munch exhibited the portraits, however, Karem’s name did not appear. Instead, the pictures were given titles that today can be perceived as racist and discriminatory. The museum is now in the process of revising these titles.
Sultan Abdul Karem was the only person with an African background Munch painted. We do not know exactly where he came from, but since Hagenbeck Circus was German, he may have been brought to Europe from one of the former German colonies, such as present-day Tanzania or Namibia or parts of Congo or Kenya. In the 1920s or 1930s, Munch’s good friend Rolf Stenersen bought one half of Cleopatra and the Slave, for which Karem was a model. He called the painting ‘Abyssinian’, which was a term describing people from present-day Ethiopia. Since the name is so specific, it is conceivable that Stenersen – and perhaps also Munch – knew where Sultan Abdul Karem came from.
With ETC’s creative consultant services and exhibition-centric approach, we provided MUNCH with a highly elevated experience. In this exhibition that displayed all the paintings of Sultan Abdul Karem by Munch, Moses discussed how being observed as an artistic subject shaped one’s sense of identity.
Filmmaker, writer and production designer Gabriella Moses believes in sharing stories of underrepresented protagonists. Most of all she wants to challenge the audience ́s perceptions of identity, reality and their imaginations. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Moses was educated at Tisch School of the Arts. Her work has received support from many institutions, including the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, New York Women in Film & TV, The Gotham Film & Media Institute and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.