Many countries around the world continue to deny homosexuals and transgender people basic human, civil and self-determinatory rights. Lesbian women, gay men and transgender individuals frequently suffer legal harassment, social discrimination and, in many cases, brutal persecution. In the Global North, their situation is often viewed as a measure of democracy and civility. However, many fail to recognise that their legal situation does not adequately reflect their social environment. Moreover, few realise that the discrimination often occurs as a result of old colonial laws. In this respect, one could interpret the debate surrounding the legitimacy of heteronormative lifestyles as a battle waged not between cultures, but within cultures around the world.
This project examines whether the emancipation movements of Western industrial countries can provide impulses for the political and cultural struggles of queer communities in the Global South. Conversely, the project will also explore what queer communities in Germany and specifically the Schwules Museum* can do to resolve the conflicts in post-migrant society. The fellowship wishes to apply participative approaches with self-managed organisations of post-migrant queers who traditionally criticise museums, their organisational forms and exhibition practices as expressions of a “white”, “male” culture of dominance.
The artistic research exhibition Odarodle – an imaginary their_story of naturepeoples, 1535-2017 casts, for the first time, a postcolonial perspective on the collection and history of the Schwules Museum*. The exhibition proposes a thought-exercise: that there are problematic associations between the museum representation of homosexualities and the ethnological display formats developed over the course of European colonialism. Odarodle presents the work of 16 artists, mostly Berlin-based, including 10 newly commissioned pieces. These contemporary positions respond to the Museum, its archive, and its practices as both research material and aesthetic medium.
The project’s primary point of departure is the seminal exhibition Eldorado: Homosexuelle Frauen und Männer in Berlin 1850-1950 – Geschichte, Alltag, und Kultur, which opened in 1984 at the Berlin Museum in West-Berlin and is considered by the Schwules Museum* as its institutional origin. The 1984 exhibition’s title was a reference to the “original” Eldorado cabaret, which was in operation from 1926 to 1933 with two locations in Berlin-Schöneberg.
Odarodle specifically turns “Eldorado” backwards. As a site of multiple origins, it is a threefold reference: an historical exhibition, a legendary night club, and a colonial myth. What Eldorado ignored, Odarodle picks up on – that the “history of (homo)sexuality” is deeply entangled with concepts of “natural history.”Though the commitment of the Schwules Museum* to enable LGBTIQ cultural visibility bespeaks a greater political agenda of liberation, the contemporary relevance of such a (self-)representational undertaking requires revision and reflection. A more expansive, less obvious scale of critical engagement, as proposed by Odarodle, considers the deeper operations within Modernity that have attempted to exhibit forms of life, their bodies, and their habitats. This is where the desire to show the manners and mores of a kind of “people” and their “nature” confronts the postcolonial challenges of the ethnographic museum: a site that has historically sought to visualize the existence of the “Other” and, in doing so, maintains the “Other” as a normative construction. What are the problems and potentials of self-representation? What about a future “queer museum,” one that is able to (re)imagine the histories of elsewhere and the otherwise in a way that complicates the representation of existences?
Curator: Ashkan Sepahvand
Participating Artists: George Awde, Daniel Cremer, Naomi Rincon Gallardo, Vika Kirchenbauer, Sholem Krishtalka, Renate Lorenz and Pauline Boudry, Lucas Odahara, Babyhay Onio, PPKK (Schönfeld and Scoufaras), Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, James Richards and Steve Reinke, Emily Roysdon, Dusty Whistles
Exhibition Architecture: Diogo Passarinho Pereira, Graphic Design: Michael Oswell
Project Mentor: Birgit Bosold