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Transforming the colonial archive

Transforming the colonial archive: From a hidden colonial trove to an interactive decolonial counter-archive


The project will develop a prototype for turning an archive of glass plate negatives and films photographed by Swedish missionaries in the Congo 1890-1930 into an interactive archive-object.

In the Congo DR, not many photographs from the historical period remain. The Swedish missionaries active in the country were part of a process whereby they documented the existing culture in the places they settled – then set out to change or even destroy it. Boaventura de Sousa Santos terms this epistemicide: ”the destruction of knowledge and cultures of populations, of their memories and ancestral links and their manner of relating to others and to nature.” We still retain the scattered remains of this epistemicide in Sweden. In this project we explore how intercultural artistic research combined with interactive technologies can intervene by finding new ways of making the material accessible to its communities of origin. We do this by developing a set of requirements and design prototypes for the interactive archive-object, in collaboration with artists and makers in the Congo DR. The results will be incorporated into the larger VR-funded artistic research project Reframing the Encounter run by Cecilia Järdemar, Freddy Tsimba and Professor André Yoka Lye.


Celilia Järdemar, Konstfack, .
Rob Comber, KTH.

Belongs to: NAVET
Last changed: Feb 02, 2021