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.
Until November 13 in billboards around the Praterstern in Vienna, Fluc shows the exhibition
Properties of a Presence
A trace is what you see
At first the swish of a bird head feather
Moving in the wind as it was when worn – now on a flag flying the pirated Penacho
On the riesen roundabout of Prater – a Mexican lucha libre wrestles us over
and around the corner the trace of mud shadows the returned
The repatriates, delivered back from here to there, from Vienna to Africa, to Mexico we go
With Artists: Claudia Peña Salinas (MX/USA), Marcus Neustetter (AT/South Africa), Nina Hoechtl (MX/AT), Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Nikolaus Gansterer (AUS/AT)
Properties of a Presence are works about the move to return looted cultural property from Europe to its former colonies. Inspired by the history of artists who have intervened with their own personal repatriations and replicas into the failure of Austria to return el Penacho to Mexico, this exhibition is part of an artistic research project ‘Repatriates’ that studies the larger protest movement for decolonial repair that has been running in public spaces of Vienna.
Claudia Peña Salinas from Mexico City/NYC sutures the old and the new Penachos together. By flying her Quetzalli as the flag of the exhibition, its curator Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll returns movement to the museum bound object. In the Restitution of Complexity this movement of people and objects in relation is shown as documentation of a Translecture with Nikolaus Gansterer. The script for this performance was based on her book The Contested Crown: Repatriation politics between Mexico and Europe (Mit Fremden Federn: Quetzalapanecoatl, ein Restitutionsfall, Mandelbaum Verlag, 2021).
With a new edition of her PENACHO VS PENACHO Nina Hoechtl takes us to the year 2078 — 200 years after the Penacho was found by the naturist Ferdinand von Hochstetter in Tyrol — when a group of luchadorxs not only managed to secretly and safely swap the “original” Penacho with its copy but also saved the birds from extinction which provided the precious Penacho’s feathers: continga, quetzal, roseate spoonbill, squirrel cuckoo.
Marcus Neustetter from Johannesburg does a durational performance entitled Tracing Absence in mud paint. Exploring his own invisible territories, the artist looks to intangible ownership and postulated repatriations, to makes sense of his life reframed with his move from South Africa to Austria. In the process Neustetter traces and maps his search of what is absent. Marks conjure up abstract forms that have changed due to distance and displacement and the composition evokes territories and landscapes permeated by both the forgotten and the unknown.
Fluc Opening Oct 13, 2021. 19:30: Public Conversation between Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Nina Hoechtl and Marcus Neustetter
August 6 and 7th at La Strada Festival in Graz, Austria – Iyagbon’s Mirror is a continuing exchange with the Nigerian/Austrian sculptor Samson Ogiamien and the performance group Onyrikon to which I am contributing a Radio Play and Video. Ogiamien belongs to the royal guild of Benin City`s bronze casters, today the questions related to the provenance of thousands of African artefacts exhibited in European ethnographic museums, (among them the famous Benin bronzes), are at the centre of a great debate; this artistic initiative aims to be a stimulus for cross-cultural reflection, traversing different spaces and artistic forms.