Image showing Den Tur Circumstansia Nos Lo Sigi Move [Under All Circumstances We Will Continue To Move]
21 June 2022

Practicing Freedom | The Afterlives of Objects 

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the EVENING PROGRAM at the Goethe Institut has been cancelled.  

CANCELLED: PUBLIC EVENT | 21 June 2022 | RCMC & Goethe Institut

In recent years, ongoing debates about the restitution of cultural heritage objects that were stolen within various colonial contexts have gained momentum in tandem with a general awareness about the prevalence of various social injustices throughout society. While these discussions have primarily involved scholars, academics and museum professionals, artists, activists and community members have also played an important role in reconfiguring and complicating the discourse around decoloniality, restitution and reparations. 

PUBLIC EVENT: No longer taking place. 

Image credit:  Den Tur Circumstansia Nos Lo Sigi Move [Under All Circumstances We Will Continue To Move]. Special thanks to the Family Connection Exhibition (2020-21), and with particular thanks to Quinsy Gario for permission to use this image. 

CONCEPT | Practicing Freedom & The Afterlives of Objects 

As engagement with social justice initiatives and movements such as Black Lives Matter continues to grow worldwide, so too does social pressure and the collective call to create change. Essential to these discussions and debates are the artists, communities, activist initiatives and intellectuals from the Global South and the diaspora whose voices and involvement are crucial to ensure a successful re-imagining and re-defining of how we think about the care and placement of illegally obtained artifacts and cultural objects currently housed within European collections. In keeping with this line of thinking, European museums are increasingly becoming interested in confronting the violent histories of their collections. It is in direct response to these developments that we see the potential for this project to make a valuable contribution to the ongoing discourse about decoloniality and restitution. It is here, when one speaks of practicing freedom, that the project aims to address, research, and practice how decoloniality is activated in different sites and in multiple temporalities. 

With this project, we attempt to facilitate opportunities to collectively unpack the topic of restitution by focusing on artistic practices, cultural work and initiatives that are founded on the desire for radical transformation and a commitment to creating change. With cultural heritage objects at the center of the project, and even more importantly, the life and spirit of cultural heritage objects as depositories of flows and energies, Practicing Freedom is also about confronting cultural amnesia through everyday memory work and a recognition of the knowledge and spiritual systems that are connected to cultural heritage objects. Working with researchers, artists, museum professionals, and existing collaborative initiatives and research projects, Practicing Freedom takes the shape of: workshops; residencies; panel discussions and lectures; podcasts; artistic interventions; and a final exhibition project and publication that will tie the numerous threads of the project together.

 

PUBLIC EVENT

The Afterlives of Objects 

With The Afterlives of Objects we seek to inquire and interrogate publicly with and among different stakeholders, communities, artists and activist initiatives about the possibility of redress and awareness. By initiating this series of events, we seek to include different perspectives and positions  to complicate and engage with (im)material culture, communities and spiritual realms with and among which these cultural heritage objects are intrinsically intertwined.  This public conversation between Wayne Modest (Director of Content National Museum of World Culture) and Nanette Snoep (Director of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum) with a poetic intervention by Quinsy Gario is the first public event that will take place within the context of the Practicing Freedom project.

PUBLIC EVENT:

  • Date: Tuesday, June 21
  • Time: 19.30 
  • Location: Goethe-Institut Amsterdam (Herengracht 470, Amsterdam) 
  • To attend this public event please sign up before 18 June 2022 via thierno.deme@wereldculturen.nl.
  • For more detailed information about Practicing Freedom please follow this link: Practicing Freedom, Goethe-Institut.

This public event is developed and hosted in collaboration with the Research Center for Material of Culture at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen and is part of the project Practicing Freedom: Regarding Decoloniality and the Afterlife of Cultural Heritage Objects initiated by the Goethe-Institut, conceptualized and curated by the Artistic Directors Amal Alhaag and Selene Wendt.

Amal Alhaag

Amal Alhaag is an Amsterdam-based curator, researcher and co-founder of several initiatives, including Metro54, a platform for experimental sonic, dialogic and visual culture and the Side Room: a room for eccentric practices and people together with artist Maria Guggenbichler (2013-2016). Alhaag develops ongoing experimental and collaborative research practice, public programs and projects on global spatial politics, archives, colonialism, counter-culture, oral histories and popular culture. Her projects and collaborations with people, initiatives and institutions invite, stage, question and play with ‘uncomfortable’ issues that riddle, rewrite, remix, share and compose narratives in impermanent settings.

Image showing portait picture of Amal Alhaag

Selene Wendt

Selene Wendt is an art historian, independent curator and writer based in Oslo. Her ongoing curatorial focus is on decoloniality and socially engaged art practices, with emphasis on interdisciplinary projects situated at the intersection between contemporary art, music, and literature.

She has curated many international exhibitions through the years. Recent exhibitions include The Storytellers (El Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá); Jamaican Routes (Punkt Ø, Galleri F 15, Jeløya); The Art of Storytelling (The Museum of Contemporary Art - MAC Niterói, Rio de Janeiro), which included a book project and series of workshops developed in collaboration with the Dulcinéia Catadora collective that actively engaged youth from the local community; A Sheet of Paper Can Become a Knife (The Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam), The Sea is History (The Museum of Cultural History, Oslo) and Listening to the Echoes of the South Atlantic (Oslo Kunstforening), which was part of Goethe-institut’s three-year interdisciplinary research project Echoes of the South Atlantic. In 2019 she co-curated Ríos intermitentes (Intermittent Rivers), a large-scale exhibition project initiated by María Magdalena Campos-Pons for the 13th Havana Biennial. Currently, in addition to working as Artistic Director of the Practicing Freedom project, along with Amal Alhaag, she is the curator of Vanderbilt University’s Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice 2022-23 program entitled Artistic Activism and the Power of Collective Resistance.

Her ambition is to create meaningful transcultural dialogues that extend beyond the parameters of the art world and to find innovative ways to use art as a tool for societal awareness and change. Her expertise as a curator has been greatly influenced by a consistent focus on contemporary art from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, including artists of these diasporas. She places particular emphasis on research-based exhibitions that address contemporary art within the context of cultural studies and is dedicated to exposing the continued impact of colonial history on today’s society. She writes regularly for publications and art journals such as NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University Press), has written and edited numerous books and exhibition catalogues, and is a member of the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association. Her book, Beyond the Door of No Return: Confronting Hidden Colonial Histories through Contemporary Art, was co-published by The Africa Institute (Sharjah) and Skira (Milan) in 2021.

For more detailed information about her work, please see her website: www.theglobalartproject.no

Selena Wendt

Thierno Deme

Thierno Deme is currently a research associate at the RCMC working with Amal Alhaag. He first received his training in literary and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam, where he gathered knowledge and skills to interpret and reflect on literature, art, and popular culture. He is currently finishing his Master’s of Fine Arts at the Sandberg Instituut within the Blacker Blackness program, this study focuses on imagination as a method to decolonize, uncode, and liberate representations of Blackness in art and design. His venture into his studies were inspired out his interest to understand Black identity formation through his project The Black Diaspora.

 

Thierno Deme