When anthropologists, doctors and warlords passed on African masks and ritual objects, skulls and skeletons to European museums, they robbed these objects of their spiritual meaning. The relationship between humans, the spirits of ancestors and nature was declared superstition. How can we rediscover the relationship between humans and spirits?
Moderated by: Eva-Maria Bertschy
Lesson#6 Revisit the Past of Beauty – Christian Nyampeta, Visual Artist, London
In Christian Nyampeta’s film Sometimes it was Beautiful, the spirits of several postcolonial luminaries, a filmmaker, and a high ranking royal of a former colonial empire talk about the “traces of a history that is filled with pain” and the “balance of composition”. The film was, among other places, presented at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Lesson#7 Aller-retour Dans le Monde Rituel – Hervé Youmbi, Visual Artist, Douala
In “Visages des Masques”, Hervé Youmbi has designed hybrid masks that question the traditional Africanist canon. Though these deviate from the stylistic conventions of the traditional society, these masks are accepted into the ritual context by elders, from where they regularly travel to the contemporary art world.
Lesson#8 Returning the Dead as Humans and Citizens – Ciraj Rassool, Historian, Cape Town
Ciraj Rassool is a Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town and has written many influential books on Africa’s cultural heritage. He explores how human remains in European museums can be returned and what rituals are used to restore their humanity.
Lesson#9 A Visit of the Mbuti People – Patrick Mudekereza, Curator, Lubumbashi
Patrick Mudekereza, artistic director of Centre d’Art Waza, travelled with GROUP50:50 to the equatorial forest to visit the nomadic Mbuti people. Their music theatre production tells the story of seven “pygmy skeletons” brought to Geneva by a Swiss doctor in the 1950s, a tale of exhumation and displacement.
Lesson#10 The Unburied of the Cimitero Dei Rotoli – Caterina Pasqualino, Anthropologist and Filmmaker, Palermo / Paris
In her current project, the Palermitan anthropologist and filmmaker Caterina Pasqualino focuses on the scandal of the unburied in the Cimitero di Santa Maria dei Rotoli. She takes this as an opportunity to talk to Palermitans from different communities about their funeral rituals and their relationship to the dead.
Photo by Joseph Kasau.