On Colonial Legacies

and Contemporary Societies


Untie to Tie

With this one-year research and exhibition programme "Untie to Tie", the ifa-Galerie Berlin explores the intersections between artistic and social discourses related to the colonial legacies in contemporary societies. The reflections refer to everyday, partly unconscious, hegemonic mindsets, as well as to social structures, and political discourses. In order to counter ideas of universal truths and objective knowledge, "Untie To Tie" unfolds diverse, partly hidden forms of subjective experiences and perspectives.

In times of globally increasing socio-cultural inequalities, cultural misperceptions, every-day discriminations and growing nationalist and populist tendencies, "Untie to Tie" invites to reflect upon the impacts of colonial legacies which have formed our contemporary societies in the first place, and which continue to globally influence our realities and everyday lifes.

For this purpose the gallery becomes a meeting place, a physical and digital platform, to encourage encounters between people and their stories, whether told, written, crafted or performed. The programme explores obvious and also unknown aspects of colonial influences and shows unexpected resonances.

To create more space for this exchange between diverse, subjective positions, the ifa Gallery Berlin has developed a new structure based on three pillars:

The public programme, “Art in Dialogue”, presents events ranging from dialogues, book launches and performances in response to the positions proposed by the curators and artists of the exhibitions.

The “Meeting Point” comprises the reading room "Center of Unfinished Business" with a collection of publications curated by the online magazine Contemporary And (C&), and the hearing station "Sonic Panoramas" with a web radio programme and sound works curated by Saout Radio.

Finally, this “Digital Platform” sets up a discursive forum with articles, podcasts, web radio and video contributions. This medium represents a transregional construction and exchange of knowledge archives and connects the „Meeting Point“ with the „Art in Dialogue“.

"Untie To Tie" is the first long-term discursive approach by ifa Gallery Berlin and during the one-year elaboration, the topic will be addressed from several, thematically related perspectives in four chapters: global relatedness, urban cultures, intersectional feminisms and riots as resistance.



ifa art education - In cooperation with the Institute for Art in Context / Berlin University of the Arts 

This double seminar in the summer semester 2017 explores, together with artists as well as students from the university and from schools, the colonial legacies in contemporary and historical teaching and study materials. Guest speakers from the fields of general and artistic education present their approaches to decolonising educational work.

Selected events will be announced for public participation.

Critical (re)readings of school and children’s books
The seminar is dedicated to an examination of school books and materials in regards to their penetrations in social, historical and political terms. Which politics of image and of language dominate at what time and in which context? How do we learn to recognise colonial, racialising or segregating modes of representation?
(Seminar by Claudia Hummel)

“unlearn to learn” – Perspectives of decolonisation in the practice field of school
The seminar takes as its point of departure this year’s programme of the ifa Gallery Berlin in order to collaboratively question colonial legacies in the context of school and to examine the possibilities of deconstructing them artistically and educationally.
How are colonial power relations re-inscribed in the space of school and its teaching and study materials, and how can they be “unlearned”?
(Seminar by Annika Niemann)

Media Resistance


Workshop of students of the Institute for Art in Context/Berlin University of the Arts with pupils from the Oberstufenzentrums for Media Design and Media Technology, Berlin. Photo: Annika Niemann

The topic of colonialism is often a blind spot in the curriculum of German schools. The art mediation programme at the ifa-Galerie Berlin has taken this as a point of departure for a critical, artistic survey. Pupils, teachers, mediators, and university students are invited to explore the topic of “colonial legacies” with its many perspectives and voices and to respond with their own comments, ideas for action, and questions. This will give rise to a transdisciplinary collection of material for further investigation and reflection in the practice-based realm of schools.

Following a two-part seminar during the 2017 summer semester in cooperation with the Institute for Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts, during which both current and historical learning and teaching materials were examined as to their colonial legacies, now the practice-based project “media resistance” is beginning. It will involve pupils from two Berlin vocational schools and will be carried out in collaboration with the state-funded programme Kulturagenten für kreative Schulen Berlin (Cultural Agents for Creative Schools in Berlin).