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?
REPATRIATES is a collective research project studying what happens when major museums in Europe are asked to return objects from their collections to communities that feel a deep connection with those objects. There are often complex political, historical, legal, and emotional dimensions to the repatriation of such cultural objects. We explore what is happening right now in several current international case studies of these kinds of return (repatriation) requests. The case studies are: Austria to Mexico; United Kingdom to Australia; France to Nigeria; and Germany to Namibia. We use different kinds of research methods to try to understand these complex interactions. We interview community members from all sides of the story whose opinions and experiences should be heard, and we work alongside museum professionals in collections to understand museum points of view. We are interested in what happens to people, places and things when such objects are returned (repatriated) to the communities that want to have them returned. We are also commissioning and creating new artworks that can stand in and relate to objects that are being returned (repatriated). We are interested in different ideas of what ‘property’ might be, especially for societies and communities that emphasise reciprocal relationships and exchanges rather than individual material accumulations such as collections. In the REPATRIATES project, multiple voices are gathered together for artistic research and fieldwork in order to produce a series of new artworks, films, books, workshops and exhibitions that will help to define the significance and future potential of repatriation of cultural heritage from museums to communities. The purpose of this project is to better understand people’s relationships to objects, their subjectivity, and the meaning of their return.
29 March 2022 – book launch in Vienna Hauptbuecherei of Mit Fremden Federn: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo116106417.html
6 April 2022 – Form x Content at Monash University Melbourne
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.