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Decentring the Museum. Contemporary Art Institutions and Colonial Legacies

Book Launch: Nina Möntmann in discussion with Lotte Arndt and Paz Guevara

Nina Möntmann’s timely book ‘Decentring the Museum. Contemporary Art Institutions and Colonial Legacies ‘extends the decolonisation debate to the institutions of contemporary art. To play a crucial role within increasingly diverse societies museums and galleries of contemporary art have a responsibility to ‘decentre’ their institutions by removing from their collections, exhibition policies and infrastructures a deeply embedded Euro-centric cultural focus with roots in the history of colonialism. In this, she argues, they can learn from the example both of anthropological museums, which are engaged in debates about the colonial histories of their collections, about trauma and repair, and of small-scale art spaces, which have the flexibility to initiate different kinds of conversation and collective knowledge production in collaboration with Indigenous or local diasporic communities from the Global South. For the first time, this book identifies the influence that anthropological museums and small art spaces can exert on museums of contemporary art to initiate a process of decentring.

Nina Möntmann is Professor of Art Theory at the University of Cologne, curator, and Principal Investigator at the Global South Study Center (GSSC) at the University of Cologne.

Lotte Arndt, researcher and curator  (Paris, Berlin) focuses on works of artists who question the postcolonial present and the antinomies of modernity in a transnational perspective. As part of the international project Reconnecting Objects. Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums (TU Berlin), she is currently conducting research on toxic conservation, chemical modernity and colonial collections.

Paz Guevara (born in Santiago) is curator of exhibition practices at HKW, Berlin, and lecturer in the MA Spatial Strategies programme at Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. 

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