Münchner Stadtmuseum , Munich, Germany 25 Oct 2013 - 23 Feb 2014
The urban landscapes of Europe are imprinted with vestiges of colonialism. To this day, street names hark back to former colonies and honor protagonists from the colonial era. In recent years, however, more and more grass-roots initiatives have engaged in a critique of this legacy and the issue has been the subject of debate in Munich for some time now. As a result, the Münchner Stadtmuseum has decided to address Munich’s colonial past and present from a variety of new perspectives.
The project aims to address the following questions: How have colonialism and racism been written into Munich’s urban environment? What is the city’s attitude towards the vestiges of its colonial past? Which places and areas are the main focus of post-colonial critiques? Which topics are debated and which ones are suppressed and swept under the carpet? Who is allowed to talk about the city’s colonial past? Whose lives do we still see traces of, whose stories are heard? What does decolonization mean in today’s world?
The DECOLONIZE München project was launched by a broad partnership of social actors and features three separate parts:
freedom roads! The interactive touring exhibition charts the long journey of Germany’s former “protectorates” in Africa, from colonization, through the resistance movements and right up to the time of their liberation. A critical look is taken at the colonial protagonists who gave their names to some of Munich’s geography, while Africans involved in the anti-colonial resistance movements and black German citizens are suggested as alternatives. freedom roads! focuses on the perspectives of the people who were colonized, providing a platform for their views on the past, the present and the future. The public are invited to actively engage by making their own contributions to the touring exhibition.
Vestiges Views Revisions Running in parallel to freedom roads!, Vestiges Views Revisions investigates the vestiges of colonialism to be found both in the city and in the museum itself. “decolonializing.munich” sheds light on the traces of colonialism that are still visible in Munich as well as other parts of the past that are more notable by their absence.
The installation ‘L’Allemagne avant la Guerre et l’Allemagne après la Guerre’ (Germany before and after the War) by Benin’s Georges Adéagbo provides a decolonization perspective on our treatment of different objects. Georges Adéagbo, who was already one of Africa’s best-known artists, came to prominence in Europe through his involvement in the documenta 11 exhibition that was held in Kassel in 2002 under the artistic directorship of Okwui Enwezor. He sees himself as an archeologist who collects objects and places them in different contexts, allowing us to see them in a new light. His arrangements connect objects with extremely diverse origins with everyday objects from the place where the exhibition is currently being held, constantly forcing the observer to grapple with the complex question of what really belongs to their ‘own’ culture and what is ‘foreign’.