The curatorial team of UNEXPECTED LESSONS in Nairobi departs from the street: from the lived space and the lived experiences of the public who have to do the decolonising labour in their day to day. As an essential balance and expansion of the academic and institutional work, this also moves the focus away from the museum as the sole or primary agent of change. African objects were not taken from institutions, they were taken from people: any process of object return must therefore include the descendants of these people from its very start. The holding of these objects in European museums as historic artefacts also strips them of their functionality, significance and meaning. The program intends to explore ways of activating, resurrecting and situating these objects in everyday life.
The feelings and injuries of the people from whom objects were extracted are rarely accounted for in program design. Via open and honest discussion and interaction, the curatorial team in Nairobi will hold space for one another and for participating audience members to give each other permission to acknowledge, and perhaps even negotiate, the conflicting and uncomfortable truths that come with these challenging efforts.
For their contributions, the UNEXPECTED LESSONS team in Nairobi chose the form of video, artistic presentations and performance, writing, and collaborative, speculative world-building. A focus on the streamed screen will allow a multidisciplinary inquiry.