From birds to art

Gunter Konrad, 1971 at the Brazza river

The Asmat-Collection  Konrad

1962 was the year of fascination with the birds of paradise. This trek was filmed above one-hundred feet tall treetops in the jungle of New Guinea, and could not have been done without the help of the locals. For many months we lived with the Asmat people in the jungle. The people, their "stone age" way of life, their culture - their rituals and their art - soon attracted us much more than the behavior of the magical bird of paradise. We were now more interested in the people. For 40 years we have had nearly continuous contact with the Asmat and have collected an extensive ethnographic collection of objects used in festivals, ritual art objects, as well as the everyday consumer goods. The photographed objects are embedded in text with diverse knowledge and background information on their cultural context from direct experiences.

Ursula Konrad, 1971

Carolina Winkelmann, 1982

Over 6000 inventoried objects in the collection provide a unique insight into all 12 cultural groups of the Asmat.
The majority objects in the collection represent a lifestyle that has overwhelmingly  affected the traditional lifestyle of the Asmat. The steadily increasing influences of missionary work, modern civilization, schools, and environmental changes have inevitably influenced the Asmats’ perspective on life. Artistic creation, therefore, is a reflection of this breathtakingly fast-paced development of a “stone age” civilization to an IT-influenced way of life. For these revolutionary artistic ideas often create a complex scene of duplicated crafted objects that allow enigmatic deep insights into the complex mythic roots of the Asmat culture.

Ursula Konrad, Pupis 1991

Carolina Winkelmann und Yuven Biakai, 2007

Carolina Winkelmann and Yuven Biakai, 2007