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 frameworks? How to position ourselves, and how to engage as artists, not only with discourses of decolonization but also with museums colonial collections? How to relate with the embodiment of colonial normativity in an ethnographic museum at the Humboldt Forum (a 21st century reconstruction of an imperial palace)?
In the “Speakers Series: Colonial Presents” students have the opportunity to interact with researchers, artists and curators approaching these questions from their different fields and perspectives.
31.10.22 with Maike Schimanowski (Curator, Humboldt Forum) Jocelyne Stahl (Scientific assistance education and mediation, Humboldt Forum) and Josefine Apraku (Lecturer, Author, Critical companion of “Leerstellen.Ausstellen”)
In this exchange, the team behind Leerstellen.Ausstellen (Exhibiting.Omissions) talks about their concept and process, and answered students’ questions and concerns. With Maike Schimanowski (Kuratorin Humboldt Forum,) Jocelyne Stahl (Wissenschaftliche Assistenz Bildung und Vermittlung Humboldt Forum,) and Josefine Apraku (Lecturer, Author, Critical companion of “Leerstellen.Ausstellen.”)
The collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin includes some 10,000 objects which are attributed to the area of present-day Tanzania. Most of the objects were acquired – often in violent ways – during the period of German colonial rule. The workshop exhibition Exhibiting.Omissions. Objects from Tanzania and the Colonial Archive questions, remembers, and reconsiders the museum’s objects and their stories. The objects’ problematic colonial and racist past is addressed in several sections. For example, the exhibition includes four display cases in which original objects from the former colony of “German East Africa” are replaced with “surrogate objects” by contemporary artists, among others. This exhibition is a critical reflection by the Berlin curatorial team on sensitive objects from Tanzania.
7.11.22 with Fogha McCornilius Refem
Fogha McCornilius Refem guides the group through the so-called “Cameroon” spaces at the Humboldt Forum, reflecting on the mingling of decoloniality and museums.
Fogha McCornilius Refem is a self-proclaimed “drapetomania” “patient” who doesn't want to be cured. He is an interdisciplinary artist and academic nomad with a background in Sociology, International Relations, and Social Work, and will continue his journey later this year as a PhD student in the GRK Cosmopolitanism program at the University of Potsdam. He is an HIA Senior Fellow of the 2021 program, and his research interests include decolonial thought, subaltern studies, black empowerment, and critical museum studies.
14.11. 22 with Dr. Ibou Coulibaly Diop
Dr. Ibou Coulibaly Diop addresses the ambivalences of engaging with decoloniality in institutional spaces including museums, and the roles of independent actors in furthering the anticolonial stands in the city.
Dr. Ibou Coulibaly Diop is a literary scholar and curator. He is currently working on a remembrance concept for a city-wide commemoration of (anti)colonialism for the Berlin Senate and, together with Lorraine Bluche, is in charge of the DeKolonisierung competence unit at the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin. In his dissertation he addressed the global(ized) dimension of Michel Houellebecq's literature and the question of globalization and universalization of literature in general. In his work, he is interested in the question of how we can grow together despite our differences and what approaches can be found in literature about this. He lives in Berlin.
28.11.22 with Nicole Angela Pearson
In this workshop, Nicole Pearson invites us to participate in a collaborative, embodied discussion of her latest play, “hand, breast, heart”. The play follows a young Black woman's journey from familial pain to communal healing. The people and places she encounters opens her up to the full range of human suffering. A collective witnessing of that suffering brings greater understanding and connection, which leads to healing, and finally, joy.
In our movement workshop we will explore our bodies and what we have each inherited; how it impacts us and some ideas about what we can do with it.
Nicole Angela Pearson is a theater artist, activist, and writer. She has over 20 years of experience using theater as a tool of empowerment to help marginalized communities, specifically low-income, disadvantaged and LGBTQIA+ youth tap into their own power.
5.12.22 with Pêdra Costa
Artist Pêdra Costa guides the group trough a spiritual encounter with the beings inside the vitrines. With the support of dancer and choreographer Eduardo Alves Guimarães the group works performatively in the ethnological museum.
Pêdra Costa (they/she) is a ground breaking, formative Brazilian, Visual & Urban Anthropologist, Performer and Tarot Reader based in Berlin that utilizes intimacy to connect with collectivity. They work with their body to create fragmented epistemologies of queer communities within ongoing colonial legacies. Their work aims to decode violence and transform failure whilst tapping into the powers of resilient knowledge from a plethora of subversive ancestralities and spiritualities that have been integral anti-colonial and necropolitical survival. Pêdra Costa is part of the academic research group Pedagogy of Performance: scene visualities and critical body technologies in Brazil, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Dodi Leal at the Federal University of Southern Bahia.
6.2.23 with Luisa Ungar
Over the years, visual artist Luisa Ungar has developed a specific system of following “clues as orientation signs, as symptoms of a certain malaise in a certain social space“ to question normativities and create speculative futures. Ungar shares her artistic strategies for unsettling seemingly stable colonial narratives.
Luisa Ungar is a Colombian artist, who experiments with language as a tool for dislocation. Using performance, installation, drawing and text, she looks for ways in which social norms are constructed and institutionalized through our everyday speaking. Her works follow narratives involving animality, extractivism and the non-human in colonial circuits. Her practice has been shown at different venues such as Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre; Ca2M, Madrid; Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht; Museo de Arte Banco de la República, Bogotá; Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm; Bienal Sur, Argentina; Ar/Ge Kunst, Bolzano; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; M KHA Museum, Antwerp; Lugar A Dudas Cali, amongst others. She has been co-editor of publication projects such as DISDISDIS (On Vampires and Other Forms of Conviviality), and Proyecto Asterisco. In 2019 Ungar curated Slanderous Languages, a combined program of performance and pedagogy for the Colombian Biennale: 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas. In 2021 she was commissioned to present new work at the Festival der Regionen (Austria) and the Liverpool Biennale (UK.)