International Laboratory “Colonial Endurance Across Eastern Geographies”

Pro Helvetia Moscou, Arts visuels

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Strategies and methods of decolonizing knowledge are in the spotlight of the international laboratory “Colonial Endurance Across Eastern Geographies”, launched by curators Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits (Creative Association of Curators TOK).

Artists, urbanists, anthropologists, architects and other specialists from Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan and other countries are the participants of the “Colonial Endurance Across Eastern Geographies” laboratory. Together they are to explore colonial practices in solving urban and infrastructural problems. As a result of the research the participants should offer their ideas on how the decolonial lens can be applied to the solution of urban problems in Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

The outcome of the project was presented within the exhibition project “Colonial Endurance. Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures”.

A woman at the exhibition at Nieuwe Instituut, Netherlands
“Colonial Endurance. Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures” © 2023 Nieuwe Instituut

The exhibit was open from July 27 to October 22, 2023 at Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Instituut Museum, it explored the mechanisms of exploitation, suppression and discrimination deeply rooted in infrastructural and architectural systems, both historical and contemporary.

The exhibition revealed recurring strategies of occupation and colonization, which are often organically embedded in construction processes and act as tools to suppress another territory, context, culture, locality, etc. By exposing this algorithm of violence in different geographical and temporal contexts, the exhibition explored how remnants of colonial processes and imperialist visions continue to persist in architectural and industrial heritage. The research-based art projects in the exhibition called for a critical rethinking of this algorithm.

The exhibition features works by Swiss artists: Denise Bertschi, Camille Kaiser, the duo Williman/Arai, Seline Baumgartner, Mbene Mwambene, Nello Novela, and Uriel Orlow.

The exhibition project "Colonial Endurance. Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures" at Nieuwe Instituut
The exhibition project « Colonial Endurance. Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures » © 2023 Nieuwe Instituut

Besides the exhibition project, one of the most important results of the laboratory will become a digital archive. It will include video recordings of online meetings in the framework of the laboratory, texts, and multimedia materials. We will announce the release date and location of the archive in March 2024.