Nolan Oswald Dennis: No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram)
Center for Contemporary Arts, Berlin, Germany 09 Dec 2022 - 14 Dec 2022
Nolan Oswald Dennis, No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram) (2018-ongoing), Installation view, ARoS Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark, 2021. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
In Nolan Oswald Dennis’s No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram), a diagram traces the non-linear account of the terrible historical negotiation between antagonistic readings of the meaning and significance of colonial compensation. Readings that oscillate between notions of repair and punishment, healing and trauma, payment and silence, memorialisation and forgetting, forgiveness and guilt.
These ideas are parsed through a network of complementary systems, such as dreams; dignity; memory; ecology; embodied trauma; representation and the metaphysics of healing. The diagram is shown as a mind map wallpaper in the tradition of the map room, where the wall map functions as a critical backdrop for a certain kind of world-thinking. Here the diagram wallpaper inscribes a mindmap room, where a certain kind of world-thinking is possible which operates in the in-betweens of these difficult questions. Extending the idea of the map room, the wallpaper is fitted with a series of shelves each carrying a different indexical object of world-thinking (eg, books, maps, rocks, etc); pinned onto of the wallpaper is a series of drawings and notes engaging the symbolic structure of compensation, and finally an industrial step ladder sits in the space in front of the wall, a gesture of access, labor, and construction.
CCA Berlin presents this work by Johannesburg-based artist Nolan Oswald Dennis for the first time in Germany, at a time during which the country grapples with the return and restitution of cultural property to formerly colonized states, as well as historical historical compensation pertaining to the Ovaherero and Nama and San genocide waged by the German Empire in 1904. No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram) thus invites us to tend to the particularities and limitations of memory work in Germany and its legal, ethical, and political implications.