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On Death and Horses and Other People

Heritage Gallery
October 22, 2011 - January 18, 2012

Image of On Death and Horses and Other People Exhibit

The Michigan State University Museum will open a new exhibition that explores the central idea that people are resilient and what makes us strong is so frequently our cultural identity.

"On Death and Horses and Other People," featuring images by Czech photographer Marketa Luskacova, opens Oct. 23 in the Heritage Gallery and runs through Jan. 18, 2012. An opening reception and gallery tour is set for Sunday Oct. 23, at 2 p.m.


Luskacova began to document the Czech Carnival (Masopust) in 1998 and has photographed more than 40 carnivals in Bohemian cities, towns and villages, where this pre-Lenten procession involves music, dance, costumes and feasting. The exhibit at the MSU Museum is comprised mostly from photographs made as the people of Roztoky, a small town near Prague, walked across fields and over Bare Hill to the neighboring village of Unetice. It also has a few of her earliest Czech Carnival photographs that were made in Prague. Masopust was widely suppressed in communist Czechoslovakia, and has only reappeared in a cultural renaissance since the democratization of the Czech Republic.


"This exhibition is an exploration of ritual, an expression of friendship, a testament to patience and perseverance and a labor of love," observes MSU Museum Adjunct Curator Howard Bossen, who is also a professor in the MSU School of Journalism. "Luskacova's photographs are a sensitive and insightful interpretation of time-honored traditions adapted for contemporary life in Bohemia, where free expression was very difficult in the recent past. For Luskacova, Czech Carnival represented 'the renaissance of the old customs in the early years of democracy, the joy that it was now allowed, my private joy to hear the old songs.'"


"On Death and Horses and Other People" is a companion to the MSU Museum's year-long special exhibition, "MASK: Secrets & Revelations." "MASK," the Main Gallery exhibit, explores issues of spirituality, perceptions of self- identity, power and authority, human rites of passage, and the place of people in nature, as well as masks in sport and war, and in the popular media. The "MASK" exhibit includes approximately 250 masks from around the world, many on view for the first time. The exhibition is also the backdrop for a number of collaborations and programs, many drawing on MSU classes in poetry, visual communication, and interactive multimedia projects.

"On Death and Horses" is also one of a number of photographic exhibits at the MSU Museum, which complement the museum's collections. Photographs show cultures, traditions, war, poverty, labor, natural wonders and polluted landscapes -- subjects that often are too small to see by the naked eye or too vast to comprehend without the perspective of a skilled photographer. Photographic exhibitions allow the museum to develop campus-wide programming on issues and ideas and act as a catalyst for campus and community discussions.


While on campus, Marketa Luskacova will speak in a number of MSU courses in the School of Journalism and the Museum Studies Program. Funding and support for the exhibit program are provided by MSU Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Department of Journalism, Museum Studies Program, James Madison College and Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.