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Decolonizing Arts. Aesthetic Practices of Learning and Unlearning – Ringvorlesung

Jenny Baese

The lecture series focuses on (contemporary) artistic and epistemic practices (of resistence). Since we presume that these practices notably put forth this ongoing process.

Since colonial modernity's violent beginnings colonized peoples answered the eurocentric refiguration of the world with cultural and aesthetic practices. With these practices they resisted against the destruction of indigenous knowledge, against capitalist and racist exploitation, enslavement, genocides and ecocides. In the 20th century anticolonial liberation struggles aesthetic practices played a crucial role. And in the postcolonial situation artistic works (projects) have contributed largely to the formation of postcolonial critique and decolonial theory-praxis by creating counter-narratives and methods of rememberance against the "politics of forgetfulness" (Françoise Vergès) and have strengthened counter-hegemonic narratives. Since the 1980s, at the latest, these interventions have changed

the field of art irrevocably. However, in face of continued "epistemic violence" (Gayatri Spivak), which refers to the contempt, oppression, and extinction of indigenous and subaltern knowledges, as well as European knowledge production, which legitimized and supported colonial rule, the decolonization of the arts - the art market, exhibiting practices (museums) and of art universities is an unfinished and contested process.

The lecture series focuses on (contemporary) artistic and epistemic practices (of resistence). Since we presume that these practices notably put forth this ongoing process. We ask, if and how they challenge their audiences to unlearn colonial/modern/racist knowledge and to learn decolonial strategies/thinking. It is our understanding that unlearning should not be seen as a loss, but as an opening of new possibilities of knowing and becoming; and that learning does not only enables changes of perspective but also has the capacity to incite movements.

Taking the historical localization of thought, perception, and recognition seriously as a post- and decolonial theory-praxis, we are interested in aesthetic tactics of learning and unlearning. We aim to make borders and border thinking tangible as place and starting point of these practices and render visible our own theoretical and practical starting points.

Thus, the lecture series focuses on aesthetic practices of an "epistemic disobedience" (Walter Mignolo), which are not only directed against the eurocentric canon, but even more work from a perspective of the South/ of diaspora to liberate the senses and the aisthesis from the colonial/modern aesthetics. What are the consequences of these artistic epistemic practices for art and cultural studies, for art institutions and art education?

To explore these questions, we have on eight evenings invited scholars, artists, and curators, to share their thinking along/about postcolonial and decolonial practices of learning and unlearning.  


Dr. Christina Deloglu-Kahlert