Until March, 2024, the PalaisPopulaire presents The Struggle of Memory, a two-part exhibition featuring works from the Deutsche Bank Collection and international loans. The show reveals the importance of memory in shaping personal and collective identity and the struggle against forgetting in the face of slavery and colonialism and their ongoing effects. The artists in Part 2 of The Struggle of Memory, include Sammy Baloji, Yto Barrada, Anawana Haloba, Lubaina Himid, Paulo Nazareth, Zohra Opoku, Jo Ractliffe, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Alberta Whittle, and Wong Hoy Cheong.
Societies require continuity and connection with the past to preserve social unity and cohesion and people need to know where they come from to be able to adjust to the circumstances of the present and challenges of the future. One of the most insidious consequences of the slave trade and European colonialism in Africa was the devaluing and dismantling of precolonial histories and cultures. The African artifacts in Western museums are symbols of the cultures that were robbed of their people and material heritage, ruthlessly subjugated, or gradually hollowed out and disassembled.
Restitution is only one step in a long journey toward the reconstruction of memory and cultural self-reinvention. Artists are taking other steps, mining family archives, highlighting individual stories, recuperating lesser-known histories, imagining different power dynamics, and constructing alternative narratives. The artists in this exhibition are concerned with remembering, reconstructing, reimagining, and restoring.
Part 1 of The Struggle of Memory focuses on how memories are embodied, presenting artworks that probe in different ways how the body absorbs, processes, stores, and recalls experiences. Part 2 explores how memories are inscribed, bringing together artworks that draw our attention to the traces of history in the natural and built environment while proposing alternative, sometimes subversive strategies of looking at the past.
Curated by Kerryn Greenberg, the exhibition takes as its starting point acquisitions made by Deutsche Bank over the last decade, many of which were created by artists from Africa and/or of African descent. This collecting focus is thanks in part to the late Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor, who directed the groundbreaking documenta 11 and was a member of Deutsche Bank’s Global Art Advisory Council.