The time for denial is over

Transnational Restitution Movement

curated by Studio Rizoma and GROUP50:50

3 – 5 June 2022, Palermo

Atrio Biblioteca Comunale di Casa Professa
Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara

With the recent return of the Benin Bronzes by the two museums with the largest collections of African art in Europe, it has become evident: we are entering a new era of postcolonial debate. In this context, Studio Rizoma and GROUP50:50 invite artists, activists and thinkers from Europe and Africa to Palermo to set the foundations for a broad transnational restitution movement. In a series of lessons, concerts, screenings and interventions, we present and discuss artistic and political practices redefining African and European identities, exploring the links between cultural and natural heritage looting, and reframing transcontinental dialogue and cooperation.

Since the 1960s, a movement of globally connected artists, intellectuals and activists has been persistently campaigning for the restitution of African cultural artefacts, and human remains as part of the decolonisation strategies. After a long period of stagnation, the debate has accelerated in recent years, with examples of physical restitution such as the Behanzin treasures to the Republic of Benin or the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. While actual restitution will be decided at the highest diplomatic level and delayed for as long as possible, it will be up to artists and civil society to speed up and accompany this process. The time has come to follow those who have led the way to create a broad and transnational movement. How can these objects be returned in their symbolic, social and historical significance? How can restitution be linked to contemporary contexts of knowledge production, social interaction and global justice?

Once you leave the European perspective, skulls and skeletons become more than scientific entities, and masks become more than art objects. They are inhabited by ancestral spirits brutally removed from their habitat, locked away in forgotten collections and still haunting the European continent. With the restitution process, we must learn, in Europe and the former colonies, to dialogue about the long history of physical violence, economic exploitation and plunder, alienation, cultural appropriation and dislocation of these objects that produced meaning. What rituals can we invent to accompany the return of the objects? How can we reverse a process of alienation induced by hegemonic euro-centric thinking imposed by colonial violence?

The destabilisation of social structures through the expropriation of objects with cultural value or symbolic power enabled the exploitation of humans and nature. Modernist ideas of progress and the subsequent separation of so-called “advanced” and “primitive” societies, the imperative of infinite economic growth and the aggressive extractivism of natural resources annihilated any alternative cosmology that defined the relationship between humans and nature differently. Should the restitution movement also claim the restitution of natural resources, compensation and repayment of the ecological debt of the West? Who pays for the ongoing destruction of the ecology caused by the exploitation of natural resources? And would it not be better for humanity if alternative cosmologies could be restored?

Studio Rizoma and GROUP50:50 invite artists, activists and thinkers from Europe and Africa that represent the avant-garde of a transnational restitution movement to present and discuss their practices. After the first stage in Palermo, the “Transnational Restitution Movement” protagonists will travel on to Leipzig, Lubumbashi, Kinshasa and Berlin in 2022 and 2023. In each city, they involve local artists and activists in their reflections and artistic production to take the transnational restitution movement forward.

Curated by Patrick Mudekereza and Eva-Maria Bertschy with contributions by Giorgio Mega and Emmanuelle Spiesse (LAM, Les Afriques dans le monde, laboratoire CNRS)

Production management: Letizia Gullo, Giorgio Mega and Pamina Rottok

General management: Lorenzo Marsili and Marta Cillero

Set Design and production: Jesse Gagliardi

Technical direction and service: Sinergie Group
Video production and documentation: La Bandita Film
Institutional Relations: Patrizia Pozzo  and Constanze Reuscher
Communication and Creative Direction: Izabela Anna Moren

Graphic Design: Ciao Ciao Studio

“Non è più tempo di negare” in Palermo is presented by the European Pavilion, an initiative by the European Cultural Foundation which aims to support and promote artistic projects that imagine desirable and sustainable futures for Europe. The two-year-program “The Time For Denial Is Over” is a project of GROUP50:50 (Basel-Lubumbashi), Studio Rizoma (Palermo), Centre d’Art Waza (Lubumbashi) and European Alternatives, in collaboration with PODIUM Esslingen, CTM Festival Berlin, euro-scene Leipzig, Kaserne Basel and Vorarlberger Landestheater.

A Sentimental Journey through Europe

For ECF 2022 magazine, Common Ground, Monica Sassatelli (associate Professor of sociology at the University of Bologna) published “A Sentimental Journey through Europe” (p. 135-140):  an essay that reflects on the notion of European Sentiment and how The European Pavilion initiative contributes to enriching it.

 

The idea of a pavilion that is singular in the name but actually plural and diverse in its concretisation seems really promising to materialise and develop these family resemblances and this quest to reimagine Europe. A space that is not a predefined box but grows with its content, some of which will be contradictory and filled of ‘pluralistic agonism’.

– Monica Sassatelli

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What is Nation? – artists’ conversation on the occasion of 59th Venice Biennale

#driftdigitalpavillion

iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in partnership with aabaakwad 2022 The Sami Pavilion raises the question, ‘What is Nation?’, explored through an in-person conversation with artists Sonia Boyce, Zineb Sedira, Stan Douglas, and Yuki Kihara, and chaired by iniva artistic director Sepake Angiama.

What is Nation? opens up the possibility to think beyond boundaries and borders of land and water, thinking through what is carried in the body to m/otherlands, to disperse diasporas, forge post-national imaginaries, identities, communities & formations of new fluid subjectivities. We ask the artists presenting at the 59th Venice Biennale, ‘What does it mean to represent a nation?’

The conversation will be recorded by iniva, and included in its Drift digital pavilion, which will launch online in May 2022.

This event is part of a wider day-long event hosted by aabaakwad, titled aabaakwad conversations taking place on the 22 of April in Venice to coincide with the 59th Venice Biennale. For more information about the full programme and details on how to attend, please see aabaakwad’s website here.

 

Image credits: Water at the three project sites- The Thames River, the Margate Coastline, and Venetian Lagoon. Photos by Beatriz Lobo.

Yuki Kihara (photographed by Sarah Hunter), Stan Douglas (photographed by Seham), Sonia Boyce (photographed by Anne Purkiss) and Zineb Sedira – all images courtesy of the artists.

The European Lunch Salad

”Europe meets in the lunch salad, the world meets at the dinner table”

The European Lunch Salad is a simple way to describe how interconnected the countries in Europe are in every day food products. ARNA asked our fellow European Pavilions to send photos of a popular lunch salad in their home town. It turned out that salads from Vienna, Madrid, Turin, Amsterdam and here in the south of Sweden are very similar to each other. So in a sense we are sharing the same meals around Europe.

See the lunch salads and what they contain at https://arna.nu/en/projects/dinner-for-future

Dinner for Future’ scenario planning

March 10-11, 2022, Dinner for Future arranged a scenario planning about the food in Vombsjösänkan 2037. The workshop led to exciting conversations about the food on our plates as the point where local and international development meet and how the Ukraine War now makes these complex connections clearer.

On site Kick-Off with the artists for StoryTelling:Europe!

On site KickOff with the artists for StoryTelling:Europe!

Brunnenpassage is delighted to announce that we finally could host an on site kick-off meeting with the invited artists involved for our production StoryTelling:Europe! which is part the European Pavilion Initiative. Asma Aiad, Melika Ramic and Natalia Hecht are ready to start their work in the neighborhood of Brunnenpassage, the market area, which represents Europe and beyond within a nutshell. On the basis of the concept of our two interlinked projects which will have premiere and opening 23rd and 24th of June 2022, we are diving more and more into the topics and emerging questions which might be of relevance in the collective process of transmedia storytelling in the upcoming month.

Brunnenpassage is excited and very honored to work with those wonderful artists within the European Pavilion Initiative. We are happy to introduce you to:

Asma Aiad, conceptual artist, activist and youth worker.
She has earned her Bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently studying at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is completing her Master’s degree in Gender Studies, with a research focus in Islamic feminism. Her activism and artistic work deal with topics like identity constructions, anti-racism, feminism and the deconstruction of stereotypes. She is a co-founder of “Salam Oida”, an initiative that celebrates Muslim culture and art in Austria. Her various works such as “This is not a headscarf” or “(Un)Seen Sacred Spaces”, she explores her Muslim identity in Austria and Europe and issues such as discrimination, representation, and art.
For StoryTelling:Europe! she is developing a multimedia stations exhibition in co-creation with protagonists of the market under the title “A Viennese Caravanserai”.

Melika Ramic, performance director and art education
She has worked at the Burgtheater Wien, Wiener Festwochen, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus as well as Dschungel Wien, Brunnenpassage ArtSpcialSpace and others. In 2010 she founded her association motschnik and staged various plays for young audiences, which were shown at national (spleen*graz, Szene Bunte Wähne, SCHÄXPIR Linz) and international festivals in the UK, Malta, Switzerland, Luxembourg.
Since 2017 she has collaborated with the Canadian group Mammalian Diving Reflex on projects such as Haircuts by Children, These Are The People In Your Neighbourhood, and All The Sex I’ve Ever Had, touring to the US, Finland, Australia, Slovenia, and Germany.
In 2021 she was curatorial collaborator for the family program of the Kultursommer Wien. She is currently working as an artistic collaborator on the long-term project “Humboldting the Humboldt” between the Humboldt Forum Berlin and the Thomas Mann Gymnasium Berlin under the artistic direction of Darren O’Donnell.
For StoryTelling:Europe! she is creating performative StoryWalks with and by children of a neighbourhood school class collecting and sharing stories with and by local shop operators and market stall workers.

Natalia Hecht, Community Artist, Psychologist, Cultural Evaluation Expert from Argentina living in Vienna.
At the core of her artistic practice are participatory co-creation and reflection processes with communities. Through collaboration, artistic intervention and critical social reflection, central topics such as diversity, migration, transculturality, feminism and collective care, are explored in order to initiate processes of self-representation and transformation. Natalia has specialised in designing and leading evaluation processes in the cultural sector with an art-based, discrimination sensitive, participatory approach. She has been part of Brunnenpassage Team for many years developing artistic projects and leading community engagement and evaluation processes.
Her role in StoryTelling:Europe! is supervisor, curatorial one with a focus on the development of thematic focus, methodology and the interrelation between the project rails.

Let’s get started in the field – we’ll keep you posted.

THE DEMOCRACY PAVILION CONFERENCE. Ljubljana, March 9-11

The Democracy Pavilion conference in Ljubljana on March 9th and 11th is organized by the L’Internationale association in cooperation with ZRC SAZU as part of the European Pavilion program, an initiative by the European Cultural Foundation.

Plans for the Democracy Pavilion were first drawn up some months ago. However, with the current Russian’s army invasion of Ukraine in our minds, L’Internationale association wants to use this platform to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

We will begin the sessions on Wednesday with news from artists and cultural workers in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora. We hope that some of them will be able to travel to Ljubljana so that we can listen to what they want and need. During the three days, we will also discuss many issues of democracy, Europe, colonial legacies and contemporary empires, also remembering ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere, as well as the histories of exploitation and erasure that still manifest themselves in the present. Our question remains what does democracy mean in these current, bleak conditions? How do we both seek to defend the limited space to think and act that we still have and push for a new sense of living well and caring for the planet we share?

Conference programme

The panels and keynote talks will be streamed online from European Cultural Foundation YouTube channel  

Dinner for Future welcomes the project’s companion artists

How does the food of the future taste is the question ARNA asks in Dinner for Future. The basis of the work is an understanding of food as a complex network of connections. Not only between landscapes, plants, animals and people but also between producers and consumers in a global market.

The project takes place in Vombsjösänkan, an area which is a candidate for becoming a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Here are some of the Sweden’s best arable lands that have the longest known history of agriculture in the country, lean lands, historically extensively cultivated land, several nature reserves and a large military training field. The issues raised by the project are highly relevant in a broader context: Sweden’s domestic food production has been halved in thirty years and is today very vulnerable to external disturbances. These are becoming increasingly apparent, from the global pandemic to climate change and the war in Ukraine.

The project’s three coompanion artists will help to capture and, through literary and artistic work, shape and complicate the issues that arise during the project. Primarily, they will present their material during the Biosphere Festival in September 2022, but also during the project’s workshops and meetings that will bring together farmers and other food producers, researchers, students and other stakeholders.

We are excited to welcome the following artists to Dinner for Future!

Ylva Gislén is a poet / author. Among other things, she was the director of the national Art Graduate School 2010-2015. www.ylvagislen.se

Johan Widén has been an artist, nationally and internationally active since 1988. Was 2000-2010 professor of free art (painting) at Kungl. Stockholm Academy of the Arts. www.johanwiden.studio

Elin Maria Johansson is an artist, educated at Kungl. The Academy of Fine Arts. Works with video, performance and installation. www.elinmariajohansson.com

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Presentation: How do we keep the channels open with all this salt?

Research Network Associate Cairo Clarke shares reflections on the shape her research has taken over the past year as her practice began to spill into territory outside the curatorial sphere. Piecing together fragments from archive visits, conversations with family, readings and materials she has come into contact with through this period of research as well as the everyday conditions that have continued to shape it.

The event title and line of inquiry is a quote from Alexis Pauline Gumbs in conversation with Christina Sharpe for the 39th issue of The Funambulist.

 

Cairo Clarke is a curator and writer based in London and Naples. Her work is informed by slowness, it centers forms of knowledge production and dissemination that slip between the cracks, are formed on unstable ground and take on multiple temporalities. Supporting strands of theorising taking place in autonomous spaces and holding space for the mess.

Cairo has worked closely with artists to develop and share instances of work across film, performance, printed matter and events as well as sharing self-led curatorial projects across numerous sites including Pompeii Commitment: Archeological Matters, Deptford X and LUX. In 2019 she launched SITE, a publication and curatorial project exploring alternative encounters with artist practice and the dissemination of research. Cairo is the 2020/21 Curatorial Fellow at LUX. Previously she was a member of The Black Curriculum, and continues to work in educational spaces.

Translating Resistance, Smuggling Utopia: Towards a European Pavilion in Marseille
Leyla Dakhli, Elsa Dorlin & Caroline Meyer Picard

Within the framework of the European Pavilion initiative, the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, has invited French-Tunisian historian Leyla Dakhli to lead a collective process entitled Translating Resistance, Smuggling Utopia. Consisting of researchers, translators, artists, and activists, the collective shares, reads, compares, and discusses texts, archives, and ideas to retrace some trajectories of resistance and utopian thinking in ​Southern ​Europe and the Mediterranean.

In December 2021, Leyla Dakhli came to Camargo for a 5-day residency and as the curator of this program, she extended this invitation to philosopher Elsa Dorlin and choreographer Caroline Meyer Picard. Together they started an initial discussion on the possible angles, questions, materials and forms they would like to explore throughout the process.

In February, the trio will return to Camargo to pursue their reading and translation of political and poetic texts that challenge the very concept of border. During this workshop, a few threads will be pulled from a tangle of words, images, sounds, and ideas, to be weaved into more tangible directions. An actual bibliography of texts to be translated will start taking shape, which may include fragments of manifestos, poetry, speculative fiction, ethnographic writing, and scientific literature.

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Public presentation of The European Pavilion at OGR Torino

On 12 November 2021, the European Cultural Foundation, Fondazione CRT, and OGR Torino hosted the public kick-off of The European Pavilion.

You can watch the recording of the presentation on:

Summit Syndicat!
graphics by ciao ciao studio

Syndicat! is part of Studio Rizoma’s contribution to the European Pavilion.

Picking up the roots of early sindicalisti, workers’ unions and anarchist philosophy, Syndicat! invites artists, researchers and citizens to elaborate and present ideas for concrete alliances that build connections between the port cities Palermo, Tunis and Bremen, culminating in a series of performative conferences to be staged over multiple days at Ecomuseo Urbano Mare Memoria Viva.

Syndicat! is neither utopian nor an abstract intellectual exercise but a concrete experiment in action, drawing from the lessons of past failures and successes in Tunisia, Sicily and the European Union. Top-down, institutional attempts to build functioning transnational alliances and practices appear stalled and victim to mutual distrust. And yet: is it possible to federate not states but people?

The talks and discussions are divided into four thematic sections that serve as an overview of topics that are relevant across both shores, clearly presenting a shared interest: Liquid TerritoryThe Port CityAgrinomics and Shared History, Shared Future.

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Studio Wild – The Forbidden Garden of Europe

Until 26/11/2021 at Spazio Punch, Venice

As part of the European Pavilion, we supported The Forbidden Garden of Europe, a project by Amsterdam-based architecture practice Studio Wild. Presented as part of the public parallel programme of the Dutch pavilion during the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the project takes the form of a garden of ‘invasive alien plant species’, which have been listed for their ethnic and biological characteristics and pose a threat to European native species. Using plants as a metaphor, The Forbidden Garden of Europe sheds new light on politically charged topics and tells the story of these invasive alien plant species.

The European Pavilion Podcast

While developing the European Pavilion programme, we produced a series of podcasts that contribute to a critical and creative debate on the future of Europe, and which are a first manifestation of The European Pavilion itself. Together with our guests, we discuss topics such as public space and ecology, post-national imaginaries, representation and lived experiences, or the need for a just transition.

Listen to all the episodes here.

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