Re-connecting “Objects”

  • 9.9.2022 Friday 7 — 9 pm
  • 14.9.2022 Wednesday 6 — 10 pm

KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin

English
Attendance is possible without advance registration, admission is free.

With: Charles Nyiha, Elsa M’Bala, Lennon Mhishi, Laura Kloeckner, Lotte Arndt, Lucie Mbogni Nankeng, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Marian Nur Goni, Rossila Goussanou, Sam Hopkins, Sophie Schasiepen, Stella Chiweshe, and La Villa Hermosa (Ayoh Kré Duchâtelet, Lionel Maes)

How can action-oriented research transform practices with “objects” contained in colonial collections? Involving three African and two European universities and museums (the Théodore Monod Museum of African Art in Dakar and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford), the international research project Re-connecting “Objects”: Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums strives for new models of engaging with artifacts and cultural practices by building symmetrical structures for collaboration and exchange and by engaging with anti-colonial resistance and transmission on the African continent. The project critically interrogates the histories of colonial collections, engages in the re-connection of interrupted chains of knowledge, and examines alternative forms of custody, object-handling, and display in African and European museums, and beyond. It thus seeks to produce multi-perspectival and transformative approaches to collections, contributing to dismantling the Eurocentric order of knowledge and to displacing the authority of expertise. Epistemic plurality is at the core of this project. A digital working tool is developed with the team of La Villa Hermosa, a Brussels-based graphic design studio, which will enable sustainable long-distance collaboration. Drawing relationships between the artifacts and documenting their historical evolution without reifying them, it acts as a transversal working instrument to be used by researchers across all continents.

The project brings together an international team of researchers from Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Germany, and Great Britain who work in close dialogue with artists, museum professionals, students, and various stakeholders on both continents. At the five partner institutions, postdoctoral researchers conduct individual research, while contributing, to the overarching common endeavor: the creation of two complementary, site-specific research exhibitions held simultaneously in Oxford and Dakar during the 2024 Dak’art Biennale. Throughout the duration of the project, a number of collective meetings are organized, unfolding the research over time. This session within the framework of the 12th Berlin Biennale is one of them.

Friday, 9.9.2022

7–9 pm

An Opening Conversation

With: Lennon Mhishi, Lotte Arndt, Lucie Mbogni Nankeng, Marian Nur Goni, Rossila Goussanou, Sam Hopkins, Sophie Schasiepen, and La Villa Hermosa (Ayoh Kré Duchâtelet, Lionel Maes)

This polyphonous opening unfolds our common endeavor, proposing to discuss it in Berlin and bringing its multiple components into resonance while thinking with and against the challenges that our different infrastructures bring about.

Wednesday, 14.9.2022

6–7.30 pm

Screening: Local Practices of Conservation, Valorization, and Transmission of Knowledge through Objects and Cultural Expressions in the Grassfields in Cameroon

French with English translation

With: Albert Gouaffo, Lucie Mbogni Nankeng

This session presents a work in progress in the form of a documentary film by Dr. Lucie Mbogni Nankeng in collaboration with Prof. Albert Gouaffo, both from the University of Dschang, Cameroon. The film being developed is part of a broader research project on Indigenous modes of the conservation, transmission, and display of knowledge through objects, art, and rituals in the chieftaincies of Cameroon. It brings together an archive of performative practices by artists and craftspeople and encounters with chiefs and patriarchs, the primary holders of this knowledge. Combining performances, texts, and ritual gestures, it focuses on practices involved in the transmission of cultural and spiritual knowledge beyond art institutions. This session aims to stimulate new perspectives and a co-constructive dynamic in dialogue with guests and the audience.

7.30–8 pm

Break

8–10 pm

Sound performance: Sonic Echoes

English

With: Charles Nyiha, Elsa M’bala, Laura Kloeckner, Lennon Mhishi, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Stella Chiweshe

Curated by Lennon Mhishi, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, and Laura Kloeckner, Sonic Echoes is a mash-up, remix, and jam session responding to sound archives and sonicities incarcerated in colonial containments, intended to invoke and unleash their fire. Rather than recuperating cohesive sound lineages or legacies, we want to create practices of refusing genre to understand the intersections of these archived sonicities. How do they communicate with other museum “subjects”? Do they stay in tune? How can they regain sonic life? We want to explore collective and intuitive methods of critical archiving to unwind and break free from perpetuating fossilized violence. We are honored to host Zimbabwe’s queen of Mbira music Stella Chiweshe, Cameroonian sound artist, musician, and performer Elsa M’bala, and UK based Kenyan sound artist and electronic musician Charles Nyiha. Interweaving sonic fragments with conversational elements, this jam session shall will critically engage, remix, and perform the archive and stimulate sonic waves to transcend and refuse containments, walls, and borders.

This session is realized in collaboration with SAVVY Contemporary’s participatory archive Colonial Neighbors.

Organized by: Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy (Head of Project) and Dr. Lotte Arndt, Technische Universität Berlin; Prof. Dr. Ciraj Rassool and Dr. Sophie Schasiepen, University of the Western Cape; Prof. Dr. Albert Gouaffo and Dr. Lucie Mbogni, Université de Dschang; Dr. El Hadj Malick Ndiaye and Dr. Rossila Goussanou, Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN), Théodore Monod African Art Museum, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar; Prof. Dr. Dan Hicks and Dr. Lennon Mishi, University of Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum; Dr. Marian Nur Goni, Université Paris VIII; La Villa Hermosa (Ayoh Kré Duchâtelet, Lionel Maes)

This presentation is part of the discursive program of the 12th Berlin Biennale. Taking the restitution debate as a starting point, it explores how colonialism and imperialism continue to operate in the present.