Künstliche Tatsachen / Artificial Facts

Research and exhibition project - supported by the TURN Fund

Peju Layiwola, Columns of Memory, Installation, 2015, Foto: Peju Layiwola


Kunsthaus Dresden - Municipal Gallery for Contemporary Art launched a trans-national research, art and exhibition project "Artificial Facts", in conjunction with a group of artists, ethnologists, historians and curators from South Africa, Benin and Germany.

The collaboration with the artists collective Artefakte//aktivierung, comprised of Brigitta Kuster, Regina Sarreiter, Dierk Schmidt, and their project partners, Burning Museum and Memory Biwa in Cape Town, South Africa, l’École du Patrimoine Africain (EPA) and Didier Houénoudé in Porto-Novo, Benin, gave rise to three Aktivierungen [activations] in Cape Town, Porto Novo and in Dresden as well as an exhibition at the Kunsthaus Dresden.

The process focuses on objects from European and African art collections, whose historical origins are directly linked to colonial geographies and ethnographies. What is of interest is their status both now and then – as a trophy or as evidence of an emerging scientific discipline –, the biographies of such objects, and ultimately the present-day conventions and future potential for their display in an exhibition setting. Postcolonial theorists, activists and critical museology alike are increasingly insisting on a critical approach to the history of collections, to their provenance and exhibition practices as well as to the fundamental legitimacy of collections and museums. In Germany, the critical examination of, and dissent towards, Berlin's Humboldt Forum constitutes an essential trigger for the project.

The activations served as a platform to probe new artistic forms of action and cultural approaches. In the experimental two-day format an un-pacified collection object was ‘activated’ to serve as an example, and to delineate the ensuing forms of interaction that could transcend, to quote Derrida, “an essential coloniality of culture”. The activitations respectively dealt with the repatriation of human remains (Cape Town); the construction of cultural legacy and dearth of stolen artefacts (Porto-Novo) and the question of whether a discourse by an artist can convey the diverging perspectives, as viewed from “Europe” and “Africa”, and which excess art thereby creates (Dresden). Lastly, an exhibition at the Kunsthaus Dresden brought together a synopsis of works by artists, who deal with the historical conditions and their underlying ideological contexts regarding the manner of presentation and perspectives of ethnographic collections and objects in museum displays.

A joint project by the Kunsthaus Dresden - Municipal Gallery for Contemporary Art with the artist collective Burning Museum in Cape Town (ZA), l'École du Patrimoine Africain Porto-Novo (BJ) and the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou (BJ).

Activitation: Artist collective Artefakte// aktivierung (Brigitta Kuster, Regina Sarreiter, Dierk Schmidt)
Exhibition: Sophie Goltz
Artists: Kader Attia (France/Algeria), Künstlerkollektiv Burning Museum (South Africa), Sammy Baloji (DR Congo/Belgium)/ Lazara Albear (Cuba/Belgium), Peju Layiwola (Nigeria), Michelle Monareng (South Africa), Paulo Nazareth (Brazil), Lisl Ponger (Austria), Jorge Satorre (Mexico), Dierk Schmidt (Germany), Penny Siopis (South Africa), Karl Waldmann (Germany), Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (Great Britain/Uganda)



Activation: Break this Unbearable Silence! Restitution/Repatriation & Human Remains, Cape Town (ZA), 27/28 September 2014
Activation: Dis/missing the Links! Value Adjustments, Cultural Legacy & Absent Objects, Porto-Novo (BJ), 6/7 October 2014
Activation on the Theme: Art & Jack-in-the-Box, Dresden, 19/20 June 2015
Exhibition: Künstliche Tatsachen/Artificial Facts in Dresden, 15 June - 4 October 2015


Kunsthaus Dresden - Städtische Galerie für Gegenwartskunst

Rähnitzgasse 8

01097 Dresden

www.kunsthausdresden.de (external link, opens in a new window)