Who owns the job of deciding which stories are remembered and which stories are forgotten?
How can artists be involved in making these decisions?
As part of the COLAB program, Ato Malinda teamed up with Peter van der Meijden for a one month residency. Together they looked at strategies of represention of various objects in Danish museums. A special focus was given to objects from Africa and how they come to represent an artificial unitary identity of Africa, instead of illustrating its many different nations and cultures. Most of the objects Ato and Peter analysed were brought to Denmark during the era of colonialism. Although many of them were primarily functional objects in their places of origin, in the West they were ascribed aesthetic qualities they did not originally possess, significantly altering the stories they tell. Their observations raised questions about criteria employed by Danish insitutions today to archive and display objects from Africa, and how these criteria might lead to misrepresentations of the objects and the cultures they come from. In a broader sense, one that relates to performance art, they asked if it makes sense to apply the European museum’s standard logics to objects and actions that were created to be impermanent.
About the Artist
Ato Malinda (born 1981, Kenya) has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Transart Institute, New York. Her works consist of performance, drawing, painting, installation, video, and ceramic object-making. Through her diverse practice, Ato investigates the hybrid nature of African identity, contesting notions of authenticity, and focuses on gender and sexuality. She was awarded the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2015) and won the One Minutes Award (2012) for moving photography. Her solo shows include “Games” (2013) at Savvy Contemporary, and “Incommensurable Identities” (2011) at Aarhus Art Building. She has exhibited in group exhibitions at Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (2014), the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (2015), Salon Urbain de Douala in Cameroon (2010) and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen (2015).