My phD research is focusses on objects which have been brought to Germany during the time of German colonial rule and have since been handed down for many generations in German families as heirlooms.
One of the main questions I am interested in is what kinds of knowledge and images are articulated in families‘ stories, and to discover what role the imaginary plays when it comes to the passing on of knowledge and images of colonial rule through generations.
What can these stories tell us about the connections between transfer, impact and repitition of colonialism?
These theoretical questions underpin and inform the artistic part of my phD research. It focusses on the relationship between subject and object and the question How can we take the objects‘ perspectives into account?
Therefore my artistic work “The parliament of things – the assembly of heirlooms” considers objects as actors, following Bruno Latour’s network theory, as well as offering an attempt to integrate Walter Mignolo’s idea of a decolonial aesthetic1 into the artistic process.
My work challenges the traditional categorisation of colonial objects by time and geographical location (ie. colonial knowledge) and tries to focus instead on our own projections of subjective colonial images onto the objects. My aim is therefore to build the objects as representatives of colonial heirlooms changing to another materiality by modelling them and to try to elevate the objects to the same level as their audience. I try to use materials and
presentation in such a way as to let the objects position themselves in the sense of Spivak: Can the subaltern speak? and challenge the viewers‘ colonial point of view by projecting these images back on to them, and through this mirroring make our subjective, underlying colonial knowledge visible in the first place.