Sustaining the Otherwise

Sustaining the Otherwise


May 13, 2024
Sustaining the Otherwise
On restitution, reparation and transformation
The Unruly Knowledge sessions: May 16–19
Place du Souvenir Africain
Rue Corniche Ouest x Aimé Césaire

Sustaining the Otherwise is a research and artistic project about restitution, reparation and transformation, which will take place in multiple locations in Europe and Africa over the next few years. Initiated by Amal Alhaag and Selene Wendt, Sustaining the Otherwise takes an active approach to engaging with the topic of restitution by attempting to dismantle the hierarchical institutional status quo, and focusing on artistic, design, research and spatial practices that activate decoloniality in different sites and multiple temporalities. 

The project offers a space for artists, activists, scholars and writers to be in dialogue and to explore the topic of restitution in relation to both material and immaterial culture. Focusing on artistic practices, the program includes residencies, talks, conferences, artist activations, publications, performances and exhibitions. As the title suggests, this is a call to imagine the otherwise, to imagine alternatives to the long history of capture and containment by supporting and sustaining artistic practices that undo colonial amnesia by refusing or replacing it with alternatives.

Sustaining the Otherwise is organized in several stages, and takes the shape of a multi-locational program that will be developed in collaboration with the following institutions, initiatives and spaces: The Research Center for Material Culture and Metro 54 (Amsterdam), Nordic Black Theatre and The Global Art Project (Oslo), 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (London), Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), Afrikadaa and the African Art Book Fair (Paris and Dakar), CCA Lagos and GAS Foundation (Lagos), Lusaka Contemporary Arts Center (Lusaka), Kamene Art Residency (Nairobi) and Afropocene Studio Lab (Kampala), among others.

Unruly Knowledge: Rehearsing for Epistemic Restitution
This four-day program is developed by Amal Alhaag and Selene Wendt in collaboration with Pascale Obolo, Afrikadaa and the African Art Book Fair and aims to explore how artists, designers, thinkers, activists, and communities in Africa and its diasporas address the concept of epistemic restitution and the return of knowledge. The Unruly Knowledge sessions are conceived as an interdisciplinary call and response to the African Art Book Fair program. 

Through this program we seek to centralize innovative forms of knowledge restitution by highlighting existing practices, toolkits, strategies, and networks that are necessary to either reinforce current community power structures or to challenge deeper structures of exploitation and domination. It’s a collective effort to understand how to (un)do or shift these dynamics, and to foster a nuanced dialogue that highlights the complexities of the interplay between knowledge, power, and societal structures.

The Unruly Knowledge sessions use the following question as a departure point: “How can there be a meaningful dialogue and process of repair, when the center of the restitution debate is still at the museums in Europe?” In this experimental and collaborative research program, we focus on the notion of epistemic restitution and the restitution of knowledge. The program is organized around three interrelated themes: Rehearsing for Restitution of Knowledge, Memory Work is Embodied Knowledge and Unruly Designs: Decentering the Object. The conversations will be complimented by a participatory spatial experience: An Unruly Walk with Histories, as well as a collaborative sonic lecture/performance with Robert Machiri and Ibaaku, and daily Unruly Knowledge radio sessions that will be broadcast live via Lumbung Radio from the African Art Book Fair.

Participants include Laeïla Adjovi, Amal Alhaag, Barby Asante, Atelier Ndokette, Anguezezomo Mba Bikoro, Ibaaku, KENU LAB, Robert Machiri, Nathalie Nzinga B. Mboup, Tracian Meikle, Victor Mutelekesha, Pascale Obolo, Bodil Ouédraogo, and Selene Wendt. 

Restitution: Thinking Beyond Cultural Heritage Objects 
The collaborative research phase of Sustaining the Otherwise was launched with a two-day symposium and public program at Nordic Black Theatre, Oslo May 2–3, 2024The two-day gathering was organized around four interrelated themes: (Un)learning Decolonial Curating; Disrupting the Archives; Performing Decoloniality and Artistic Practices of Storytelling, which were discussed in a workshop environment where participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas, strategies, and reference points. Contributing participants included Amal Alhaag, Tawanda Appiah, Michael Barrett, Jeannette Ehlers, Quinsy Gario, Sasha Huber, Marcia Harvey Isaksson, Linda Lamignan, Duduzile Mathsoni, Aude Christel Mgba, Lennon Mhishi, Wayne Modest (remote), Ogutu Muraya, Cliff Moustache, Victor Mutelekesha, Pascale Obolo, and Selene Wendt, as well as musicians Bafana Isaac Nhlapo, Ibou Cissokho, and Solo Diarra, whose concert was accompanied by a dance performance by Emmanuel Ndefo. 

For more information, please see the Sustaining the Otherwise website. If you would like to keep updated about current and future programming, please subscribe to our newsletter. With generous support from Nordic Culture Fund, Creative Industries Fund NL, Fritt Ord, Arts and Culture Norway, and OCA. 

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May 13, 2024

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