Common Grounds. A Seminar on Quilombola’s Knowledge, Resistance and Communal Practice

Filipe Lippe
Common Grounds. A Seminar on Quilombola’s Knowledge, Resistance and Communal Practice

Seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Thursdays, 14:30-18:30 h, bi-weekly: 26.10., 9.11., 23.11., 7.12, 21.12.2023, 18.1., 1.2., 15.2.2024, Hardenbergstr.33, room 004

Registration on Moodle starts 16.10.2023 / Anmeldung auf Moodle beginnt am 16.10.2023:
Moodle Enrollment Key / Einschreibeschlüssel: practice

In recent years, claims for epistemological decolonization and justice for social minorities in several societies, have become unavoidable agendas in Western art. Although social issues centered on anti-racism, feminism, decoloniality and LGBTQ+ rights have driven museums to diversify their collections and to include artists from social minority groups in their exhibition programs, and counter-hegemonic notions of art and aesthetics have been intensely debated by academics, artists and curators - effective political and epistemic changes in the global contemporary art system have not yet happened. On the contrary, following the current neoliberal instrumentalization of identity-based agendas, the art system has assimilated these agendas through a process that, being driven mainly by the art market, depotentionalizes and commodifies them.

One option for this impasse lies in the need of reconsidering and reapplying erased memories, knowledges, cultures and ways of being, as well as establishing critical dialogues and non-hierarchical hybridizations between Western and non-Western epistemological matrices which oppose neoliberal capitalism. In this sense, the application of ‘quilombo’ – an autonomous form of community created by fugitive enslaved Afrodiasporic people in colonial Brazil – into the arts is an efficient method as it essentially is an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist principle. For centuries, the quilombo have configured a radical alternative to colonial/capitalist Brazilian society. Its collective form of self-governing social organization generates non-hierarchical ethno-racial and cultural relations, creating subjectivities, knowledges and modes of life that differ from hegemonic models imposed by colonialism/capitalism.

This Common Grounds seminar will reflect on and debate quilombos, the historical resistance that these communities have established against colonialism/capitalism since the 16th century, and discuss the possibility of ‘quilombizing’ artistic practice and art institutions - transforming them into self-governing community spaces that provide belonging for historically marginalized social groups. The memory, ancestrality, ethos, methodology, knowledge and, above all, the mode of social organization and being-in-common, generated by this practice will be analyzed so that we can establish a relationship between quilombo, contemporary art, and current anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist socio-political struggles.

Common Grounds will study the ancestral knowledge of African matrices that gave a conceptual basis to quilombos, and pay special attention to the cultural and epistemological hybridization generated from the encounter between diverse diasporic black, Amerindian and white European peoples within quilombola communities.

The seminar will also critically reflect on recent attempts of applying quilombo into contemporary art. It will take into account the institutionalization and commodification of dissident practices and knowledges, as well as the neoliberal instrumentalization of identity-based agendas that can possibly occur in this process. In this sense, we will critically discuss the problematic relationship existing between counter-hegemonic memories, knowledges and practices such as quilombo and the mainstream art system, which is sustained by art institutions, academia, and the market.

The seminar is based on an essay I published in the ‘Setedelijk Journal’, which debates the possibilities of quilombizing individuals, institutions, and artistic practices as a means of countering the neoliberalization of dissident identities, practices and discourses into the art system:

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credit points: Attendance, active participation in conversations, course essay and/or presentation. Collective reading of theoretical works and discussions on historical and present quilombos, commons experiences, communal projects and social practices within the arts. The students will be motivated to develop collective projects under quilombist principles by taking into account the socio-political and cultural background of Berlin.

Filipe Lippe is a Brazilian artist, poet and researcher born in 1986 in Duque de Caxias and currently based in Berlin, Germany. He is a PhD candidate at the HFBK Hamburg, researching on historical trauma, racism, and (de)coloniality in the context of neoliberalism. He is particularly interested in Marxist theory, epistemic disobedience, decolonial thinking, Afrodiasporic music, pop counterculture, commons, quilombism, and political theory.