Through a pair of complementary conversations – bringing into dialogue research emanating from Delfina Foundation’s Collecting as Practice programme and Archive Milan’s research stream (re)memberings and (re)groundings – artists engaged in these programmes shared and explored their research, ideas, and understandings around the issues of restitution, repair, and the non-returnable. These discussion included how forms of return might take immaterialities into account, creating new logics of circulation and presentation.
In the first conversation (chaired by Archive’s Chiara Figone), Alessandra Ferrini (Archive Fellow) and Gala Porras-Kim (Delfina Foundation artist-in-residence, 2021) explore how the term restitution carries different valence across global contexts and within the circulation of artefacts extracted from their original sites and stored in museum collections in the West.
In the second conversation (chaired by Archive’s Zasha Colah), Anawana Haloba (exhibiting artist, Archive) and Nolan Oswald Dennis (Delfina Foundation artist-in-residence, 2021) explore the non-hierarchical and non-imperial methods by which they both interrogate the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonisation.
Nolan Oswald Dennis (Zambia/South Africa) explores what they call ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonisation. Their work questions the politics of space and time through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach. They are concerned with the hidden structures that condition our social and political imagination, which transverse multiple realms (technical, spiritual, economic, psychological, etc), and works to produce counter-diagrams of these, sometimes opposed, sometimes complimentary systems. Nolan is currently an artist-in-residence at Delfina Foundation.
Alessandra Ferrini is a London-based artist and researcher. Her work questions the legacies of Italian fascism and colonialism. She was the recipient of the 2017 Experimenta Pitch Award at the London Film Festival and is one of the Maxxi Bulgari Prize 2022 finalists. Currently, she is a Research Fellow at Archive Milan as well as the British School at Rome.
Anawana Haloba (Livingstone, Zambia, 1978) lives and works in Oslo and Livingstone. Haloba’s work has been shown in institution such as Centre Pompidou, France; Oslo Kunstforening, Norway: GAMeC, Italy; SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway; National Museum of African Arts Smithsonian Institute, US; the Rauma Biennale, Finland; ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Germany; Museum Berardo Collection, Portugal; la Biennale di Venezia, 2009; Sydney Biennale 2008; Manifesta 7; the Sharjah Biennial 8th, 11th and 14th editions, as well as the biennales in Sao Paulo, 2016; Shanghai, 2016; Lyon, 2017; and the Bucharest Biennale, 2021. She co-founded Livingstone Office for Contemporary Arts (LoCA) in 2014 as an artist-initiated non-profit library and research centre, collective/collaborative platform for reflections and an experimental think-tank, exploring histories (colonial histories, social and political histories and their legacies) and how they relate to language and contemporary art.
Gala Porras-Kim (Colombia/USA) investigates institutional and linguistic frameworks that define, legitimise and preserve cultural heritage. Considering how oral traditions or archaeological remains of Mesoamerica are represented and exhibited, the artist underscores history’s methodological and ideological tools to analyse and ultimately control narratives and access to knowledge. Gala’s work questions the ethical principles of museological conservation while also functioning as an invitation to imagine stories and invest new meanings to artefacts displayed inside museum vitrines or assembled in its storages. Gala was an artist-in-residence at Delfina Foundation in spring 2021.