What constitutes postcolonial provenance research in collections from colonial contexts? What perspectives open up beyond the mere reconstruction of chains of provenance?
Provenance research sheds light on the origins and paths traveled, as well as on the relationship histories of objects in museum collections. Postcolonial provenance research particularly focuses on the effects of the appropriation of objects from colonial contexts. It is concerned with far more than just the reconstruction of property relationships and chains of ownership. Postcolonial provenance research involves working in close cooperation and in an open process with people from the regions of origin, in order to investigate the historical and contemporary meanings and functions of the objects.
The second event in the 99 Questions series spans from the challenges and results of provenance research, through the implications for museums, to artistic approaches in practice. What actually constitutes postcolonial provenance research? What perspectives open up beyond the mere reconstruction of chains of provenance? And can provenance research contribute to the decolonisation of the collection, or does cooperative provenance research also run the risk of reproducing colonially based views, classifications, and forms of knowledge, ultimately serving as a mere fig leaf?
Alexis Th. von Poser is Deputy Director of the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin and head of the provenance research department of these museums. He received his PhD from Heidelberg University and did extensive fieldwork at the north coast of Papua New Guinea. He was lecturer at the universities of Heidelberg, Madang (Papua New Guinea), Göttingen and Berlin. Furthermore, he was project leader for the digitization of the ethnographic collections of the hanseatic city of Lübeck and curator of the ethnographic collections at the Landesmuseum Hannover. Alexis von Poser is journal co-editor in chief of the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie/Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology and of the Baessler-Archiv.
Jim Chuchu serves as Co-founder and General Manager at The Nest. In addition to being a filmmaker, musician, and visual artist in his own right. His photography and visual art works have exhibited all over the world, and his Invocations series is part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Jim co-founded the collective and has directed and scored the collective’s 2012-2019 film projects, as well as recording and producing the Nest’s music projects. The Nest is a multi-disciplinary arts collective based in Nairobi. The collective is part of the International Inventory Programme project, an international artistic, research and database project that investigates on Kenyan objects held in Western cultural institutions.
Dr. Njoki Ngumi is an artist, writer, and feminist thinker who has held positions in private and public health care sectors in Kenya. As a Nest founding member, she has been co-writer, screenwriter, and script supervisor for several of the Nest’s film works, and is currently expanding her filmmaking practice as co-director of The Feminine and The Foreign. Her keen eyes and ears are a critical component of the collective’s post-production process, as well as its strategic and research outputs.
Miranda Lowe is a principal curator and scientist at the Natural History Museum, London. Her media work with creative industries allows her to link art, science, and nature to aid the public understanding of the natural world. She is a founding member of Museum Detox, a network for people of colour who work in arts and the heritage sector, championing fair representation, inclusion, and deconstruction of systems of inequality. Miranda was a finalist in the UK National Diversity Awards 2013 and listed in the BBC Women’s Hour Power List 2020: Our Planet.
Prasanna Oommen has been working for 20 years as a public relations officer, moderator, and author in the fields of Politics, Civil Society, Culture, Education, Digitization and Media. She was the press spokeswoman for various institutions and companies in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hessen and is a former board member and active member of Neue Deutsche Medienmacher e. V. Between 2019 and 2020 she has been a member of the Expert Committee appointed by the NRW state government as part of the Ruhr Conference. Prasanna Oommen is a trained classical dancer (Cologne/Bangalore) and has worked for many years in arts education for children and adults in Cologne and Bonn.
- 1 hour 30 minutes