Talking Objects

For decades, debates have been simmering about the colonial pasts of 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, together with systematic racist continuities, not only affecting everyday lives, but also politics and cultural practice – in the Global North as well as in the Global South and in relation with each other.

»The Western archive is exhausted!«
Felwine Sarr

What can knowledge be today, beyond European knowledge systems?
The think tank, exhibition and event series TALKING OBJECTS LAB explores plural forms and practices of knowledge of the African continent as well as poly-perspective strategies of mediation and visualization. Five thematic fields are in the foreground: 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.

New perspectives and questions are needed to break up colonial thought patterns and challenge Eurocentric views, deeply rooted in the European understanding of culture and knowledge, continuing to shape its interaction with non-European cultures until today. A new historiography and different knowledge productions are necessary, as well as an "epistemic disobedience", as the literary scholar Walter Mignolo termed it. This is preceded by an "Un-learning" and "Re-thinking" of Eurocentric perspectives of the world.

TALKING OBJECTS LAB 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. TALKING OBJECTS LAB is 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.

Interview with the curators Isabel Raabe and Mahret Ifeoma Kupka