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Interdisciplinary Festival.

  • Event
  • Dec 21 2023 | 12:00 AM h - 12:00 AM h

Exhibition and Performances




TBC (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

ÄM 53, a commemoration in public space (more information to follow).


BLACK LAND, RED LAND – RESTITUTE is an interdisciplinary festival that will critically examine the operational mechanisms and knowledge systems of museums and institutions. Via discursive and artistic processes, participants and audiences will gain a new intimacy with artifacts and narratives from the “holdings” of the Egyptian Museums of Berlin, Germany and Turin, Italy. Across four days from 21 to 28 December 2023, methods developed by the festival team and artists will be shared and discussed with audiences at silent green, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Palais am Festungsgraben, and in public space.

The imperial research expeditions to Egypt in the nineteenth century took place as part of the European exploration and capture of the African continent. As well as documenting and surveying the land, they also appropriated cultural entities. These expeditions, which took place within the extended context of expeditions of colonial conquest ongoing since the sixteenth century, sought to transfer their own modes of knowledge and ways of life to non- European territories. In the course of these “adventures,” cultural and spiritual artifacts, components of religious sites, and even human remains were removed from their traditional lands and used to fill museums being constructed across Europe (in Germany, Italy, France), and other parts of the world to function as centers of exhibition and knowledge production – and as testaments to the documenting and surveying of “new” lands. The sciences – at that historical point working with taxonomical methods of definition and categorization – invented meanings for these artifacts then displayed them as “objects” under their ownership. The museums declared themselves humanity’s universal stewards of a “global cultural heritage.” They grouped the expropriated artifacts according to their own self-image, presenting them as “collections” that corresponded with their own ideas and notions. Today still, only a small fraction of “humanity” has access to these European museums – wide swathes of the “cultures of origin” have never been able to visit and see these cultural and spiritual artifacts.

The complexity of the present situation is evident in the more discursive of recent public debates on restitution and return of the artifacts to their lands of origin. Who decides on the return of artifacts? What are the criteria? Where, precisely, do the restitutions go? What reasons are given? Who is now – and was then – excluded from the conversation? And do the discussions not have the corollary effect of legitimizing (post)colonial systems of knowledge and power? Who writes the histories? And what is hereby overwritten, over and over again? What do the works that became “catastrophic art” (Fazil Moradi) speak of?

An artistic, discursive search for erased and unavailable knowledge incorporates museum archives, but also goes beyond them. These institutions are also spaces that bear witness to the absolute exploitability and utility of life. Is it possible to imagine a shared vision for the artifacts and entities – and traces and histories thereof – beyond the borders of nation states? And can such a vision be carried over into the futures, on this or the other side of death?

The artistic contributions to the festival are new productions and variously deal with ancient Egyptian entities, mythologies of non-Western antiquity, or the relationship between social space, belonging, and communities.
The discursive section of the festival will cover various patterns of argumentation and procedures at museum institutions, both from a critical/historical perspective and a practice- based one. The festival will close with a roundtable discussion that will seek to map out shared futures based on the theme of “commemoration.”

To ready yourself:

Close your eyes. Imagine you are in the Archeological or Egyptian Museum you visited most recently. Go to an artifact of your choice or to one that you remember well. See if you can also remember its name or what you think its name might be. You can also give it your own  name. Speak this name aloud. Pause. Try to picture the artifact precisely in your mind, try to memorize its shape. In your mind, step away from the artifact and leave the museum, without turning yourself around. Open your eyes. Take a moment and return to your everyday life. You will soon again see the artifact of your imagination, whenever it decides to visit you. Do not be afraid of this encounter.



Concept and Artistic Direction Elena Sinanina Scenography and Light Design Shahrzad Rahmani Project Management Anne Diestelkamp Dramaturgy Yunus Ersoy Sound Design Christopher von Nathusius Research Advisory Johannes Auenmüller, Kerylos Boules Aziz Advisory Oliver Baurhenn Production Kristin Buddenberg Photography Lutz Knospe, Nick Ash Press Relations Rafael Sergi Graphic Design Birgit Karn English Translation Matthew James Scown Translation into ‘Leichte Sprache’ Anne Diestelkamp

Statue of the God*dess Sakhmet (2023): Studio Babelsberg, Art Department: Gerhard von der Waydbrink (head of sculpture), Sandy Schmidt (3-D lab/ CNC mill, milling the statue) Ulf Schüler (sculptor), Robert Krüger (head of painting/ surface), Jahn Nickel (painting) based on models of the same statue, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1390-1353 BCE, Thebes, Karnak, Temple of Mut. Granodiorite, 221 x 60 x 111 cm. Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy.
Concept: Elena Sinanina.

Divine Sound Prism (2023). Sound object by Yara Mekawei. Wood, loudspeaker, amplifier, wooden construction, screws, cable, battery. Production: Edgardo Rudnitzky.

Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Community. In cooperation with the Initiative BLACK LAND e.V., Studio Babelsberg, Kunstraum Kreuzberg and silent green Kulturquartier. Supported by the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin.

Initiative BLACK LAND e.V. Chair: Elena Sinanina, Yara Mekawei
Thanks to Fazil Moradi, Stéphane Bauer, Torsten Seefeldt, and Michael Akstaller.


Anti-discrimination statement

The festival BLACK LAND, RED LAND – RESTITUTE is a space for encounter and exchange. We do not tolerate any racist, antisemitic, islamophobic, homophobic, trans*phobic, sexist statements or actions or any other forms of hostility.

If you feel that your boundaries have been violated, please talk to the festival staff.

As organizers, we reserve the right to deny access to the event or exclude anyone from who makes racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic, sexist or other inhumane remarks.


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