10—11.09.2022 From Restitution to Repair

Day 1: The Paradox of Restitution

10.9.2022        SATURDAY      3 - 7.30 pm

Day 2: Restitution as Reinvention

11.9.2022         SUNDAY         3 - 7.30 pm


Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg
Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin


A vast majority of precolonial African artistic and cultural heritage is held and stored in European museums—completely out of reach of the societies of origin, who have a right to their heritage. Since Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr published their REPORT ON THE RESTITUTION OF AFRICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE in 2018, the debate on restitution has returned to the forefront of the political agenda. While it is gaining attention internationally, this discourse is also in danger of becoming institutionalized and de-complexified. The forces in power seem to be slowly shifting as Western museums and states can no longer ignore the necessity to question and return their collections. But under what conditions do these returns take place? And what are the related repercussions at large? The absence of the objects has left traces of trauma in their places of origin that remain even after their return. The psychological dimensions of the loss of cultural objects become visible, for instance when the reinstallation of the objects in Africa mimics Western museums. How can restitution go beyond the material gesture of giving back cultural artifacts? How can the custodians infuse dreams and life into objects long exiled? And, thinking of restitution beyond objects, what, for instance, are the stakes of restituting human remains?


Albert Gouaffo, Bénédicte Savoy, Ciraj Rassool, Dan Hicks, Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, Jihan El-Tahri, Paz Guevara, Rolando Vázquez,
Sophie Schasiepen, The School of Mutants (Hamedine Kane, Lou Mo, Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro, Valérie Osouf), Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, Uta Kornmeier

Curated by: Kader Attia and Marie Helene Pereira

Link to online discussions:

  • Keynote, Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy

  • Roundtable discussion

Panel: Prof. Dr. Albert Gouafo, Prof.Dr. Dan Hicks and Prof. Dr. El Hadji Malick Ndiaye

  • Roundtable discussion

Panel: Prof. Dr. Ciraj Rassool, Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige and Uta Kornmeier

Moderation: Dr. Sophie Schasiepen

Photo: @Silke Briel