Modern Art History
Performance Elsa M'bala, Re-connecting „Objects”, Dokumentation, 12. Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst © Silke Briel

Re-connecting "Objects". Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums

The project aims at building transformative practices in dealing with cultural heritage through action-oriented research. Involving three African and two European universities and museums (the Théodore Monod Museum of African Art in Dakar, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford), it strives for new models of engaging with artefacts and immaterial heritage by learning from existing practices on the African continent and by building symmetrical structures for collaboration and exchange.
The project critically interrogates the histories of collections assembled during the colonial time, engages in the re-connection of interrupted chains of knowledge and examines alternative forms of custody, object-handling and display in African and European museums.
It thus seeks to produce multi-perspective and innovative approaches to collections, contributing to dismantle the Eurocentric order of knowledge and to displace the authority of expertise.
For this purpose, the project brings together an international team of researchers from Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Germany, and Great Britain who work in close dialogue with artists, museum professionals, students and various stakeholders on both continents. At the five partner institutions, post-doctoral researchers conduct individual research, while contributing, to the overarching common endeavor: the creation of the site-specific research exhibition held in Dakar from 18, May - 15 September 2024, during the Dak’art Biennale. Throughout the duration of the project, a number of collective meetings (seminars, workshops, public events) are organized, laying the foundations for the exhibition.
Epistemic plurality is at the core of this project: all its components are thus designed to allow for the cross-fertilization of multiple approaches. They open up the sedimented meanings of "objects" and foster learning from practices beyond the museum. To this aim, a digital working tool and website is developed with the team of La Villa Hermosa, a Brussels based graphic design studio which enables sustainable long-distance collaboration. Drawing relationships between the studied artefacts and situations and documenting their historical evolution without reifying them, it acts both as a transversal working instrument to be used by all researchers across continents, and as a visual element of the exhibition in its own right. In this way, the project intends to expand the classic academic formats through digital media and communication technologies.


15th edition of Biennal of Contemporary African Art in Dakar under the title: The Wake

Branching Streams. Sketches of Kinship is conceived in the frame of the transnational research project ‘Reconnecting "Objects". Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums’ (2021-2025), which brings together scholars and artists living and working between Africa and Europe. 

The exhibition weaves together anti-colonial and decolonial approaches, quests for transformative justice and ecological investigations, while taking into account the different histories and positionalities of the contributors. While the coloniality of collections and its manifestations in the present are often the starting point, we strive to open spaces of invention and transformation that go beyond the museum. 

Our exhibition is modular on all levels, to fully allow its components to unfold in their plurality, to deploy the contextual stakes of artistic practices, and to question their possible connections and resonances. It combines the documentation of individual and collective research with artistic interventions, together with the public program Before the Rain Arrives. The intersections of these multiple processes come together in the shared space of the M'bokk media library.

The exhibition takes place from 18, May - 15, September 2024.

The Team of "Re-connecting 'Objects'" at the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art


Dr. Lotte ArndtTechnische Universität Berlinarndt@tu-berlin.deProject researcher
Prof. Dr. Albert GouaffoUniversité de Dschangalbert.gouaffo@univ-dschang.orgPrincipal investigator
Dr. Rossila GoussanouUniversité de researcher
Prof. Dr. Dan HicksUniversity of investigator
Dr. des. Lucie Mbogni NankengUniversité de Dschang Project researcher
Dr. Lennon MhishiUniversity of Oxford Project researcher
Dr. El Hadj Malick NdiayeUniversité de Dakar Principal investigator
Tatiana Ngobo d.ngobo@tu-berlin.deAdministrative project coordination (2022-2023)
Dr. Marian Nur GoniParis VIII Project researcher
Prof. Dr. Ciraj RassoolUniversity of the Western investigator
Prof. Dr. Bénédicte SavoyTechnische Universität Berline.goulko@tu-berlin.dePrincipal investigator
Dr. des. Sophie SchasiepenUniversity of the Western Cape Project researcher
Eileen StelterTechnische Universität Berlineileen.stelter@tu-berlin.deAdministrative project coordination


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