Starting with the comprehensive ethnographic collection put together by the German missionary, Pater Meinulf Küsters, in the 1920s at a mission station in Inkamana (today the Inkamana Abbey, KwaZulu Natal), I plan to investigate the relation between artefacts, photographs and sound recordings, and thereby develop an approach to the history of ethnographic collecting that takes into account the subjectivity of the collected objects and recorded voices.
After finishing my Master’s degree in anthropology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, I took up a position as assistant in public relations at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin, where I organise and curate exhibitions, film screenings and public lectures that engage with the research fields of the centre’s fellows. With the support of ZMO, Anette Hoffmann and I were able to show her exhibition, What We See, at the Humboldt-University, Berlin in 2012, accompanied by the publication Was Wir Sehen. Stimmen, Bilder, Rauschen. Zur Kritik anthropometrischen Sammelns (Anette Hoffmann/Britta Lange/Regina Sarreiter, BAB, Basel 2012).
Using sound recordings that were made in 1931 in what is now Namibia, we developed, together with Matei Bellu and Andrea Bellu, the voice/text installation Unerhörter Bericht über die deutschen Verbrechen in den kolonisierten Gebieten und über das fortwährende Wirken der Gewalt bis in die Gegenwart (Unheard/outrageous report on the crimes of the Germans in the colonized regions and the ongoing effect of violence to the present day). This installation was showcased in group exhibitions at the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart in 2012 and at the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund in 2013.
I am also a member of the Berlin-based artists/researchers group Artefakte//anti-humboldt (together with Brigitta Kuster, Dierk Schmidt and Elsa de Seynes) that was founded in 2008 as part of the event, Der Anti-Humboldt (www.humboldtforum.info), which protested against the re-construction of the Prussian castle and the Humboldt-Forum in Berlin. Artefakte//anti-humboldt has pursued its interrogation of ethnographic museums by organising a workshop on restitution (2009), a lecture and a debate with Françoise Vergès on ‘The Museum of the Present’ (2009), an open-air film lecture with ‘mummy films’, screened at the construction site of the planned reconstruction of the castle in Berlin (2010), as well as at the musée du Quai Branly, where we were invited by bétonsalon in Paris (2011).
The lecture evolved into a three-channel video installation Rise, for you will not perish, that was showcased in the exhibition, Animism, at the House of World Cultures in Berlin in 2012. A result of the group's work is the special issue on Afterlives for the peer-reviewed open access online journal darkmatter: in the ruins of imperial culture (www.darkmatter101.org). Currently Artefakte//anti-humboldt is working on the artistic project, Künstliche Tatsachen/Artificial Facts, in cooperation with Kunsthaus Dresden (DE), the artist collective, Burning Museum, with Memory Biwa in Cape Town, and the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain (EPA) in Porto-Novo (BJ).