Artistic Research in Museums and Communities in the process of Repatriation from Europe
Horizon 2020 European Research Council Consolidator Grant, 2021-2026
Artistic Research team of PI, Post Docs, PhDs, artists, curators and project manager based in Mexico, Australia, Nigeria and Namibia, with partners in Paris, Berlin, London and Vienna.
What innovations to the repatriation of cultural property can be performed by making new originals?
The project REPATRIATES brings together internationally art-based research actions that respond to repatriation, to learn from exchanges between French, German, Austrian and British institutions and stakeholder indigenous communities. REPATRIATES and the “new originals” stand in for contested objects – whose ownership may remain unclear – and explore how these can be exhibited sensitively. It develops strategies for making artistic responses to this material, to propose ways forward for the decolonization of cultural property. This research aspires to shape a response to the complex political, historical, legal, and affective dimensions of the repatriation of cultural assets.
We study major European museums’ approaches to concrete, current repatriation processes. Can different modes of property be learnt from cultures whose emphasis is on reciprocal relationships rather than individual material accumulations? Comparing repatriation processes to Mexico, Australia, Nigeria and Namibia, REPATRIATES proposes new models of co-ownership. This is essential to redress historical power imbalances and their display as national heritage.
What questions can be asked of repatriated objects, as in what personalities, powers, and performances do they bring with them? REPATRIATES’ synthesizes artistic, legal and stakeholder community dimensions heretofore underrepresented in repatriation debates. Multiple voices gathered in artistic research and fieldwork, from milieus of museum professionals that may be sceptical of repatriation, and those working in politics, jurists, and academics, together produce a series of new artworks, films, books, workshops and exhibitions that define the significance and future potential of repatriation.