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Exhibitions on colonialism are a challenge, especially for curators with a critical perspective on racism: a large number of the objects that could be shown come from colonial – i.e. violent – contexts themselves and thus prolong the historical violence into the present. Furthermore, the artefacts available usually reflect the perspective of the colonisers. This can be seen, for example, in the object descriptions, which often repeat colonial-racist ideas. That is why exhibitions engaging in the topic of colonialism and its intertwining with racism and contemporary discourses are increasingly involving artistic interventions.

Starting with the human sculpture “kigiilya”, we examine artistic interventions in the context of exhibitions critical of colonialism, and in connection with the logic of museum categorisation. In conversation with Christopher Nixon we approach the question of what makes an object an object. How can artefacts snatched from their societies of origin escape the object status? How do artistic interventions relate to historical artefacts?

Josephine Apraku

Josephine Apraku is a scholar of African Studies, author and trainer for intersectional education critical of racism. As a lecturer, Josephine Apraku has taught at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences and the Humboldt University of Berlin, among others. In addition, Josephine Apraku has written as a columnist for magazines such as Missy Magazine, Edition F and the Berliner Tagesspiegel. Her*his latest book “Kluft und Liebe” on why social in justice interfers with our love relationships and how to overcome this, was published by Eden Books in September 2022.

Christopher A. Nixon

Christopher A. Nixon has been filling the professorship for Social Inequality and Social Policy at RheinMain University since January 2023. He previously worked as a research assistant at the Chair of Political Theory and History of Ideas at Dresden University of Technology. In 2020-2021, he worked as curator for colonial past and postcolonial present at the Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg, where he curated an exhibition on the colonial entanglement of Hamburg’s industry. His research focuses on postcolonial, critical and political theory, aesthetics, social philosophy.

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