Demythologize That History and Put it to Rest

various venues, Berlin, Germany, Lisbon, Portugal
18 Apr 2018 - 13 Sep 2018

Performance by Christian Etongo in front of Otto Von Bismarck Denkmal Berlin. Photos by: António Pedro Mendes

Performance by Christian Etongo in front of Otto Von Bismarck Denkmal Berlin. Photos by: António Pedro Mendes

Demythologize That History and Put it to Rest focuses on the monuments of two historical personalities who exerted huge influences on the colonization of Africa by the European powers during the so-called Congo Conference (1884/85) in Berlin: Otto von Bismarck (Tiergarten, Berlin) and King Charles I (Palacio da Ajuda, Lisbon). Eight performances by artists from Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Iraq, Mozambique, and Portugal aim to demythologize these two heroic monuments. They respond to how history is exhibited and portrayed in the public space and at the same time question how art can bring about social change.

Demythologize That History and Put it to Rest aims to challenge the idea of remembrance formed by statues, monuments, street names and other Eurocentric colonial memorials and sites of remembrance in Lisbon and Berlin’s public spaces. Lacking a present contextualization the objects continue to overshadow the perspective and histories of African communities and their epistemological systems and commemorate a romanticized Eurocentric history. The expense thereof being the oppression of Black Africans. The project is involved in creating and presenting artistic interventions in Lisbon and Berlin’s public spaces. The aim, to demythologize the narratives around these monuments and their influence on the various aspects of public remembering and forgetting, and to counter the ways they have been shaping our present thinking, experience and imagination.

Is there an incapacity or lack of interest from Lisbon and Berlin’s state institutions to deal with statues, monuments, memorials, street names and other forms of colonial remembrance? What romanticised understandings do we have of these objects? How can artists and art projects demythologize the colonial narratives which are celebrated as national glories?

Inspired by Edouard Glissant’s assertion that history and its formation should not be left to historians alone, the artist Marcio Carvalho invited fellow artists from Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Iraq, Mozambique and Portugal to present live performances and public discussions to counter- monumentalize these crystalized objects, to demythologize their hegemonic, western narratives and to search for other memories and other narratives.

Demythologize that History and Put it to Rest is an art project by Marcio Carvalho in collaboration with the art space SAVVY Contemporary and its archive project Colonial Neighbours and Hangar – Centro de Investigação Artística. Carvalho developed this new chapter of his project while in residence in the Colonial Neighbours archive and through an investigation in GEO (Gabinete de Estudos Olisiponenses) in Lisbon.

The project departed from a photo album the artist found in the Colonial Neighbors archive at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin – a participatory project that aims to engage critically with Germany’s colonial past through personal and everyday objects. The Kamarun photo album, brought from Cameroon to Germany, was passed from one generation to the next until it was given to the archive, without much information about its original owner. It consists of photographs showing landscapes, proudly presented ivory tusks, ‘exotic’ fruits and pictures of local people. Sites of colonial power and violence like the german Woermann factories and fields appear in the background of the photos. In the photo album aspects of the private and collective visual memory intersect and many photos respond to the European desire for the ‘other’, the “exotic”; while the photos of factories, labor and houses promote the colonial achievements and the success of German colonization. Marcio Carvalho accidentally discovered that this photo album was created by Otto von Bismarck himself. This finding was a departing point for this project. The project continues in public spaces in Lisbon and Berlin where statues of, for example Bismarck, as well as monuments and memorials play a similar role on the promotion of German and Portuguese colonial achievements.

18.04 – 5pm BERLIN

Performances: Christian Etongo (CM)
Otto Von Bismarck Memorial, Tiergaten

05.05 – 5pm BERLIN

Performances: Ali Al-Fatlawi and Wathiq Al-Ameri (IQ/CH) – Marcio Carvalho (PT/DE)
Otto Von Bismarck Memorial, Tiergaten

18.05 – 7pm BERLIN

Exhibition Opening (Chapter 1): In collaboration with whose land have I lit on now? – contemplations on the notions of hostipitality exhibition
Savvy Contemporary

26.05 – 4pm LISBON

Performances: Kiluanji Kia Henda (AO) – Lavoisier (PT)
Dom Carlos I statue, Palácio da Ajuda

02.06 – 4pm LISBON

Performances: Angela Ferreira (MZ/PT) – Marcio Carvalho (PT/DE)
Dom Carlos I statue, Palácio da Ajuda

03.06 – 6pm LISBON

Conversation with Marcio Carvalho and Elsa Peralta
Hangar, Centro de Investigacao Artistica

17.06 – 5pm BERLIN

Performances: Nathalie Bikoro (GA)
Otto Von Bismarck Memorial, Tiergaten

13.09 – 7pm BERLIN

Exhibition Opening (Chapter 2): Opening together with Geographies of Imagination exhibition
Savvy Contemporary



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