Colonial Presents: Artistic and Curatorial Interrogating

Is it possible to decolonize the museum, a colonial knowledge enterprise per excellence? Can artistic and curatorial practices offer possible avenues to set such processes in motion, or do they stabilize modern/colonial cultural frameworks? How to engage as artists with the ethnographic museum at the Humboldt Forum, a reconstructed imperial palace in the 21st century? A decolonial approach does not look to ameliorate a current state of affairs, rather, it questions the museum's raison d'être, investigating the its role in the construction and export of racist knowledge regimes, and it responds with ideas for possible futures. Reading and reflecting on authors including Suzanne Césaire, Aimé Césaire, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Franz Fanon, María Lugones, Nelson Maldonado Torres, Walter Mignolo, Aníbal Quijano, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, as well as through encounters with invited scholars and artists, this course served as a basis for the development of individual and collaborative artistic pieces engaging with the paradox of a decolonial approach in artistic creation within an ethnological museum.

Cooperation

This was a project-based theory and history seminar, with both a theory and an artistic practice dimension. It was offered in tandem with the course “Zeichnen Farbe Fläche – Spatial Drawing” led by Elaine Bonavia (TFD.) Leading to the joint exhibition-intervention “Mingled Living Forces.”
The Speakers Series: Colonial Presents was an integral part of the seminar, allowing students to engage and interact with artists and researchers working on the topics.

Methodology

A “flipped classroom” methodology guided the work, bringing the students to assume a major responsibility for their learning. In each session one to two students took the leading role, one to two different students took the role of responders, other two were in charge of documenting and one was responsible for communicating and bridging all concerns from the online participants. The line up of sessions and responsabilities was choreographed in such a way that each student assumed each role at least one time.
Beyond acquiring knowledge about the central concepts and throughlines in decolonial theory, as well as getting an introduction to local German debates about museology of colonial collections, the students developed analytical, critical and presentation skills, and practiced making a bridge between their theoretical and artistic works.
No prior engagement with the topics was required.

Readings

Optional Readings

Department

Theory and History

Time Period

WiSe 2022/2023

Format

Theory and Practice Seminar

Location

hybrid, Mart-Stam-Raum, weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, Leerstellen.Ausstellen. Humboldt Forum

Lead

Juana Awad

Students

Bar Esh, Aline Suter, Melis Kiran, Eva Dobler , Paulin Fichtner, Hami Mehr, Diwali Hasskan, Sofia Mariaca Ewel, Quang Vinh Giang, Mohamad Halbouni, Raras Umaratih, Imad Alfil

Contributors

Eduardo Alves Guimarães, Josefine Apraku, Pêdra Costa, Ibou Diop, Fogha Mc Cornilius Refem, Nicole Pearson, Maike Schimanowski, Jocelyne Stahl, Luisa Ungar (Speaker Series: Colonial Presents)

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  • Text

    Juana Awad