Practicing Freedom

Practicing Freedom

Goethe-Institut London

Theo Eshetu, Ghost Dance, 2020. © Theo Eshetu.

October 1, 2022
Practicing Freedom
Regarding Decoloniality and the Afterlife of Cultural Heritage Objects
Poetic Intervention—The Afterlives of Objects: October 14, 7:30pm, live conversation between museum directors Wayne Modest and Nanette Snoep
Goethe-Institut Amsterdam
Symposium in Lagos: November 8–10, discussion about practicing and performing decoloniality in various lectures and performances
African Artists’ Foundation Lagos
The Moving Museum by Theo Eshetu: December 7, 7pm, film screening followed by a conversation between Theo Eshetu and Selene Wendt
Goethe-Institut London

A cultural heritage, research and artistic project conceptualized and curated by the Artistic Directors Amal Alhaag and Selene Wendt and initiated by 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 of the prevalence of various social injustices throughout society. 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 re-imagine and re-define how we think about the care and afterlives of illegally obtained artefacts and cultural objects currently housed within European collections. 

The concept of Practicing Freedom draws inspiration from Kaiama L. Glover’s book Regarded Self. As a title, Practicing Freedom hints at the radical potential that lies in Glover’s thinking. It helps define the scope and ambitions of the project while also allowing for multiple trajectories and narratives to unfold over the duration of the project, providing a conceptual starting point for the many paths we will embark on during the project, individually and collectively.

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 centre 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 artists, researchers, museum professionals, and existing collaborative initiatives and research projects, Practicing Freedom will take the shape of workshops, residencies, public gatherings, conversations, lectures, artistic interventions, and a final exhibition project and publication that will tie the numerous threads of the project together.

It is our pleasure to announce the upcoming events in Amsterdam, Lagos and London.  

The first public event, hosted in collaboration with the Research Center for Material Culture and the Franco-German Cultural Fund, will take place at Goethe Institut, Amsterdam on October 14 at 7:30pm. The program features a live conversation, The Afterlives of Objects, between Wayne Modest (Director of Content National Museum of World Cultures, Rotterdam and Head of the Research Center for Material Culture, Amsterdam), Nanette Snoep (Director of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne), and visual artist and writer Quinsy Gario. For more detailed information about Practicing Freedom or to sign up for this public event, please follow this link: The Afterlives of Objects

We are pleased to be collaborating with the African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos to host a symposium that will take place at AAF on November 8–10.  Discussions will be organized around the following themes: Practicing and Performing Decoloniality; Designing Towards a Reparative Future; Poetics and Practices of (Im)material Culture and Artistic Strategies of Ancestral Healing. Aspects of the program will be open to the public, including performances and lectures, as well as a workshop component conceived to democratize and connect the art community in Lagos in one dialogical space. To sign up for this event, please follow this link: Lagos Symposium

A special screening of Theo Eshetu´s film The Moving Museum: Arrivals and Departures (2021) will take place at Goethe-Institut, London on December 7 at 7pm.  The Moving Museum documents the process of moving the collections of the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art into the recently opened Humboldt Forum, Berlin. The film will be followed by a conversation between Theo Eshetu and Selene Wendt. To sign up for this event, please follow this link: The Moving Museum

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Goethe-Institut London
October 1, 2022

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