Goethe-Institut presents Practicing Freedom in Amsterdam

October 10, 2022
Theo Eshetu, Ghost Dance, 2020. © Theo Eshetu.

A cultural heritage, research and artistic project conceptualized and curated by the Artistic Directors Amal Alhaag and Selene Wendt and initiated by Goethe-Institut.

In recent years, ongoing debates about the restitution of cultural heritage objects that were stolen within various colonial contexts have gained momentum in tandem with a general awareness of the prevalence of various social injustices throughout society. Essential to these discussions and debates are the artists, communities, activist initiatives and intellectuals from the Global South and the diaspora whose voices and involvement are crucial to re-imagine and re-define how we think about the care and afterlives of illegally obtained artefacts and cultural objects currently housed within European collections.

The concept of Practicing Freedom draws inspiration from Kaiama L. Glover’s book Regarded Self. As a title, Practicing Freedom hints at the radical potential that lies in Glover’s thinking. It helps define the scope and ambitions of the project while also allowing for multiple trajectories and narratives to unfold over the duration of the project, providing a conceptual starting point for the many paths we will embark on during the project, individually and collectively.

With this project, we attempt to facilitate opportunities to collectively unpack the topic of restitution by focusing on artistic practices, cultural work and initiatives that are founded on the desire for radical transformation and a commitment to creating change. With cultural heritage objects at the centre of the project, and even more importantly, the life and spirit of cultural heritage objects as depositories of flows and energies, Practicing Freedom is also about confronting cultural amnesia through everyday memory work and a recognition of the knowledge and spiritual systems that are connected to cultural heritage objects. Working with artists, researchers, museum professionals, and existing collaborative initiatives and research projects, Practicing Freedom will take the shape of workshops, residencies, public gatherings, conversations, lectures, artistic interventions, and a final exhibition project and publication that will tie the numerous threads of the project together.

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