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Remixing the Future

Theresa Traore Dahlberg, Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole, Andreas Nur Remixing the Future, October 9 2021 - January 9 2022, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm

Remixing the Future presents as the union of three solo exhibitions or solo installments, inside the premises of the museum, and which in turn is informed by the longer-term project Ongoing Africa, carried out until this year by the Museums of World Culture (of which the Museum of Ethnography makes part). The expressed rationale here has been to activate the collections stemming from Africa and in doing so stimulating "new forms of knowledge about the continent" in close collaboration with persons of African diaspora. A backstory at hand is that the three exhibitors who all graduated from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in the same year in 2017, each have made part of the interdisciplinary black art collective OUFF which formed during their time still at said school. At the core of Remixing the Future lies Theresa Traore Dahlberg, Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole and Andreas Nur having been granted open access to research the museum's collections and surveying objects found there within, amounting in the presented separate narratives. In light of a discourse on decolonizing museum practices that is increasingly vocalized, if not yet commonplace, this exhibition definitely provides food for thought in ways more than one, suffice it to say.

Theresa Traore Dahlberg, Hakili, Remixing the Future, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 2021

Theresa Traore Dahlberg's Hakili takes its point of departure from a small sculptural hare that she found in the museum collection whose origin turned out to actually stem from the village of her paternal grandmother in Burkina Faso. The hare, subsequently served as a catalyst, prompting Theresa into various thoughts, in the midst about deficits in the preservation of oral tradition and the revelation about Hakiki's design having been divested away from the public domain where it belongs in Burkina Faso to the extent its memory no longer finds any recollection. For the exhibition a series of hare sculptures have been produced in Burkina Faso, inspired by the original hare, all of which Theresa gave elongated ears to emphasize a bridge and connection to the future and as an allusion to oral tradition. Hakili spot-on brings thought to the omnipresent question one might ask about museum collections like that one at the Etnografiska museum. Why is the hare still here and not there? For Theresa Traore Dahlberg Hakili is merely a first iteration in a work that will continue and not end until the hare, one way or another, has found a way back to Burkina Faso, for a local audience there.

Diana Agunbiade Kolawole, Art & Culture, Egba, Remixing the Future, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 2021

Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole's Egba sees her presenting a full new body of work; 16 colour photographs of still life arrangements of objects found in the museum collection that originate from the Nigerian cultural region of Egba and its capital Abeokuta. Diana’s work like Theresa's is a direct poignant address towards the narrative but us who do know her, know she has a massive sense of humour which she also attributes to the project. Beside the museum glass, the frames are all of IKEA. Why? Let’s say then that the commodification of ”cultural capital” per way of cultural goods/objects to signify distinction in lifestyle for the showkeen consumer (the way one simply would purchase ”nondescript” Western design for identity branding), is one of the bearing ideas. Think also of how a discourse around the display of objects acquired during travels to non-Western regions has (duly) changed significantly over time. From cultural ”affection” to travesty. The deadpan humour in the Egba manifests also in so far for the exhibition a glossy magazine-style supplement has been produced (think a lifestyle supplement in a Vogue-like magazine) as a visual and physical metaphor for cultural goods and objects as commodity in the Western world. Find the magazine; a work of art in itself, in the exhibition. It’s a limited edition but there are copies free to take.

The third solo installment confined to a space of its own, away from the two other, is Andreas Nur’s visual orchestration ID which takes cues from the music video format. The presentation form; a very Berlin Biennial-worthy mutli-sceeen staging with bleachers for visitors to sit. The comfort of the pillows in stark contrast to the flux of violent imagery flickering by in the fast paced collage-like video for which found images, both from the web and the museum’s archive, have come to be used. We were told that the artist re-edited the work after a conversation with the curator Michael Barrett, merely just weeks before the opening by adding overlaying numbers into the visual display, very aptly nodding back to the museum’s modus operandi for recording history: catalogizing (an act agency-enhancing and reductive at once, you could likely argue).

Andreas Nur, ID, Remixing the Future, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 2021

Ashik & Koshik Zaman


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