UNEXPECTED LESSONS – Decolonizing Memory and Knowledge

11 & 12 June 2021, Berlin, Nairobi and online.

"The Western archive is exhausted!" says Felwine Sarr.


The performative symposium "UNEXPECTED LESSONS - Decolonizing Memory and Knowledge" was the prelude to the TALKING OBJECTS LAB. Artistically and discursively, UNEXPECTED LESSONS negotiated the question "What can knowledge be today? It was about knowledge systems in music, African philosophy, the decolonisation of art history and mediation, and artistic perspectives on remembering and knowledge.


With Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Aïcha Diallo, Ibou Coulibaly Diop, Natasha A. Kelly, Nadia Yala Kisukidi, Syowia Kyambi, Nora Landkammer, Elsa M'Bala, Carmen Mörsch, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Peggy Piesche, Magnus Elias Rosengarten, Felwine Sarr, Bénédicte Savoy, Vanessa Eileen Thompson.


Here you can find the film documentation of all contributions:


Poetry Performance by Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo

UNEXPECTED LESSONS — Poetry Performance »Opowu« by Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo (poet, curator, singer)

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Black (European) Studies

Mapping Academia

The panel on Black (European) Studies surveys the current state as well as the history of Black Studies in Europe and Germany, also in relation to the evolution of Black Studies in the United States. With Natasha Kelly, Peggy Piesche and Vanessa E. Thompson. Moderated by Mahret Ifeoma Kupka.

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Epistemic Shift in Memory and Knowledge

Conversation with Nana Oforiatta Ayim and Felwine Sarr.

Because memory is so often developed from non-written texts, these narratives are more difficult to trace because of the scarcity of traces, but deep in the ideologies, practices, and politics of those denied history is an ethereal yet very real memory that is un-stated but nonetheless dis-static.  …

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The Other Objects – A New Behaviour


“The Other Objects” explores the idea that the framework of object movement needs to expand beyond the three-dimensional artefact and consider the public space, the constructed environment as objects upon which the same forces of colonial appropriation and movement. The Nairobi team wishes to invite…

UNEXPECTED LESSONS in Nairobi - Film Still
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Unexpected Lessons – Welcome Remarks

by Mahret Ifeoma Kupka, Isabel Raabe, Jim Chuchu and Chao Tayiana

„The Western archive is exhausted!“ says Felwine Sarr. What can knowledge be today, beyond European knowledge systems? New perspectives and questions are needed in order to break up colonial thought patterns and challenge Eurocentric, white views that are deeply rooted in the European understanding…

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Decolonization Labour is Emotional Labour


»Why are we keeping our heritage in someone else’s country?«

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Who heals here?

Artist Talk with Elsa M'Bala, Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro and Magnus Elias Rosengarten (host)

UNEXPECTED LESSONS –Artist talk with Elsa M'Bala, Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro and Magnus Elias Rosengarten (host)

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De-Westernization - On African Philosophy

Nadia Yala Kisukidi

What does the “decolonization of philosophy » mean? Is « philosophy » the real object of such a critical operation? 

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Repenser l’histoire d’art

With Bénédicte Savoy, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye and Ibou Coulibaly Diop

UNEXPECTED LESSONS – Panel discussion with Bénédicte Savoy (Art historian), El Hadji Malick Ndiaye (Art historian, curator) Moderation: Ibou Coulibaly Diop (Literary scholar)

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Coloniality and Education in Museums

Carmen Mörsch and Nora Landkammer

“What are all of these things?” a seven-year-old in an ethnographic museum asks the facilitator on her way through the exhibition. “Did you make them all yourselves?” What can the facilitator say in response except “no”?

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Music, Knowledge and Transmission

Keynote Lecture by Felwine Sarr

Keynote lecture of the performative discussion event UNEXPECTED LESSONS – Decolonizing Memory and Knowledge, June 11-12 2021 at Academy of the Arts, Berlin, in Nairobi and online.

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Recreating Ecologies of Knowledge

Keynote by Nana Oforiatta Ayim

Keynote lecture of the performative discussion event UNEXPECTED LESSONS – Decolonizing Memory and Knowledge, June 11-12, at Academy of the Arts, Berlin, Nairobi and online.

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Interview with El Hadji Malick Ndiaye

TALKING OBJECTS in Conversation

Ahead of the two-day symposium UNEXPECTED LESSONS, Magnus Elias Rosengarten talked to art historian El Hadji Malick Ndiaye in Berlin.

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Interview with Felwine Sarr

TALKING OBJECTS in Conversation

Ahead of the two-day symposium UNEXPECTED LESSONS, Magnus Elias Rosengarten talked to keynote speaker Felwine Sarr in Berlin.

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Listening to Objects

Nana Oforiatta Ayim

Objects are things in transition.

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Syowia Kyambi

Becoming Kaspale

Kaspale is a trickster character I have created and developed over the past two years, which started as an open-ended performance intervention and has developed into other mediums such as photography, collage, and film. Kaspale began as a way to intervene in spaces charged with colonial activities,…

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Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro

Where Is Your Fire

«Where Is Your Fire» (2021) is a mourning ritual drawing on archival material of Black Abolitionist women retracing the story of a lost 19th century court case of the murder of a Herero Princess and a stolen African German theatre script. The artist follows the multiple routes of Black Feminist…

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Dekoloniale Unexpected Lessons City Walk

A Video City Walk with Israel Kaunatjike, Paulette Reed-Anderson, Mynaka Sururu Mboro and Christian Kopp along colonial traces in Berlin. A Cooperation Project with DEKOLONIALE Memory Culture in the City.

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Un-Documented – Unlearning Imperial Plunder

by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay

»Un-Documented – Unlearning Imperial Plunder« (35 min) is screened in the context of the performative discursive event »Unexpected Lessons – Decolonizing Memory and Knowledge«. The film by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay argues—against Alain Resnais and Chris Marker’s film Statues Also Die—that statues…

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When the empire gets weary, the objects may return

Njoki Ngumi in conversation with Jim Chuchu

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