Denkmalsuche im „Afrikanischen Viertel“

A research report on the establishment of an anti-colonial memorial in the “Afrikanisches Viertel”, a district of Berlin.

The title of my work INTERAKTIV – KOLLEKTIV – INTEGRATIV refers to a cyclical process in which I interacted with the local stakeholders. INTERAKTIV (German for interactive): I went to the streets in the district to create chance meetings with people who live there, work there or are just passing through. They were offered a dialogue opportunity. A short section of German colonial history in Africa was told and a short interview taken. KOLLEKTIV (German for collective): Perceptions and memories, sparked during the interviews, as well as opinions and ideas about a potential monument, were collected, sorted, categorized and edited. INTEGRATIV (German for integrative): Monument models were developed and crafted according to the opinions and ideas of the interviewees. They were exhibited at the street festival in the “Afrikanischen Viertel”. It was an attempt to bring the models into the city quarter as well as to bring them into people’s minds. This created a new interactive atmosphere and new ideas and suggestions for the potential monument were also sparked and collected.

During the interviews, implementations as “statue”, “meeting place”, “information and plaque” and “playground with history” were most frequently proposed for the monument. The interviewees connected the idea of a monument with their own experiences in and wishes for the quarter. But there were also many one-sided views, stereotypical ideas, illusions or erroneous perceptions. These can make it difficult to integrate a monument in the district. The challenge in this work was also to deconstruct ideas and find the hidden essence, to ensure that a monument in the “Afrikanischen Viertel” that is based on this work, does not propagate a one-sided impression of Africa. In addition, it is important to avoid reproducing a story of the suffering of the oppressed African people in today’s society through the presentation of history in the public space.

This artistic work gives access to the past and a glimpse into the future in a lively, creative way.