Talking Objects

For decades, debates have been simmering about the colonial pasts of the major European nations and their handling of provenance, restitution and the return of looted objects from colonial contexts. The reach and complexity of the debates came to the force and with it racist continuities, systematic ever since, still socially effective until today, not only affecting everyday lives, but also politics and cultural practice – in the global North as well as in the South and in relations with each other.

„The Western archive is exhausted!“ says Felwine Sarr. What can knowledge be today, beyond European knowledge systems? New perspectives and questions are needed in order to break up colonial thought patterns and challenge Eurocentric, white views that are deeply rooted in the European understanding of culture and knowledge and that continue to shape Europe's interaction with non-European cultures today, A new historiography is needed, different knowledge productions, an "epistemic disobedience", as the literary scholar Walter Mignolo calls it. This is preceded by an "Un-learning" and "Re-thinking" of Eurocentric perspectives of the world are part of this.

The think tank, exhibition and event series TALKING OBJECTS LAB will explore knowledge forms and practices of the African continent and explores strategies of mediation and visualization. It wants to focus on plural forms of knowledge. Five thematic fields are in the center here: decolonization of memory, decolonization of knowledge, re-evaluation of objects from colonial context, empowerment and chances of artistic perspectives, and questioning of classical museum forms of preservation and presentation. The TALKING OBJECTS LAB, which is in a planning stage, was initiated by curator Mahret Ifeoma Kupka (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main) and freelance curator and project developer Isabel Raabe (Berlin). Together with partners from the African continent they are investigating knowledge forms and practices on the African continent and testing strategies of mediation and visualization.

TALKING OBJECTS LAB will be part of the project TALKING OBJECTS initiated by Isabel Raabe. TALKING OBJECTS also includes the TALKING OBJECTS ARCHIVE, a digital archive for decolonial knowledge production, which is scheduled to go online in 2024.