Hanne Darboven’s Cultural History 1880-1983 (1980-83) is an overwhelming, encyclopedic installation that weaves together cultural, social and historical sources. Juxtaposing found and crafted materials, autobiographical documents and popular representations of iconic figures, it references both mundane realities and pivotal historical events such as World Wars I and II.
Dan Adler explores the aesthetic complexities of the work, making comparisons with significant projects such as Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Jasper Johns’s According to What and Gerhard Richter’s Atlas. Despite Darboven’s position as a founding figure of Conceptualism and her extensive exhibition history, relatively little has been written about her work. This insightful study of one of her most important works fills that gap.