Personal Collections

Charlotte Gwendolyn Arn on The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage

8 November, 2023

Reading Circle 01.11.2023 at Museum Rietberg

with
Studio Caruso

The origin of objects has always been characterised by the Latin prefix “Ex”: extraction, exploitation and export were the determining principles that led the things of everyday, spiritual, religious and cultural life from the colonised countries to the colonising countries.

The report by Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr interweaves to raise the question of whether things, so ultimately taken, can be given back, whether the axis of time can be symbolically reversed, or whether the idea of reciprocity can even be applied to a system so radically lacking in balance and fairness.

By exploiting things, knowledge, and identity, history, and the future are exported as well. With their arrival in Europe, they get misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misused by a big audience. Depictions, reflections, and narrations can be found throughout European cultural practices.

Even though society changed in the past 150 years, we still have a very Eurocentric worldview in Europe.

To understand the unbalanced and unfair system, these misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and misuses of the past and the present must be studied and addressed.

By exhibiting Western paintings, books and sculptures inspired by the objects imported from colonised countries, we can also understand how wrongly they might have been read and used. A familiarity can be established with the purpose, the importance, and the context of the original objects. If these objects remain in museums of European cities, this familiarity should be the aim of a visit.

Book recommendation:
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference.

 

Charlotte Gwendolyn Arn on The Restitution of African Cultural Herit...

Reading Circle 01.11.2023 at Museum Rietberg with Studio Caruso The origin of objects has always been characterised by the Latin prefix “Ex”: extraction, exploitation and export were the determining principles that led the things of everyday, spiritual, religious and cultural life from the colonised countries to the colonising countries. The report by Bénédicte Savoy and […]