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.


Open Call for Curators-in-Residence Programme at the ifa Gallery Berlin
ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) | KfW Stiftung
30 March – 30 June 2018

Following its first one-year research and exhibition programme Untie to Tie – On Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Societies exploring colonial structures in the everyday (April 2017 to April 2018), the ifa Gallery Berlin dedicates the second phase of this programme – running from May 2018 to mid-2019 – to Movement.

This one-year programme proposes to examine different concepts of movement and migration as emancipatory actions beyond colonial borders, be they mental (imaginary, theoretical, linguistic) or territorial. Movement here is understood not merely in a literal sense, but as a catalyst and accelerated interaction of people and ideas that enable thinking with/in/beyond borders. The programme is divided into four parts accompanied by a public programme with a strong focus on performance, dance, music and sound art.

Open Call: Movement & Migration Beyond Colonial Borders (working title)

A cooperation project between the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and the Curators-in-Residence programme run by KfW Stiftung will focus on the first part running from May to September 2018. Curators are invited to propose a solo exhibition and to take part in the development of this part’s public programme. The preparation of the solo exhibition will be combined with a three-month residency in Berlin (30 March – 30 June 2018), supported by KfW Stiftung.

In times of the so-called “migratory crisis” and the crisis of globalisation, dislocation and the politicisation of the figure of the “refugee”, we want to trace the entanglements that are creating unequal dynamics of movement. We believe in migration as a natural and positive process and we aim to find an embracing approach to movement while focusing on the connecting points that resonate in each of us when we deal with migration, transition or feelings of displacement. How are we encountering the impossibility of movement, the everyday realities of transmigration, exile and statelessness? How do we perceive movement in general? How will we think about legacies, territories and a point of collective annunciation when everything is in constant, fluid motion?

The curatorial approach for this Open Call is to show counter-narratives that challenge current aesthetics within diverse discourses of movement and migration. What are the artistic/curatorial strategies and practices that deal actively with the transformation of the status quo and enable us to think about other possible futures and new perspectives?

Curators are invited to curate the exhibition and to co-curate the public programme during their residency. Cooperations with other institutions or partners are welcome.

To submit your application, please send a proposal for an exhibition including the artist and the relevance to the theme (max. 2 pages, in English) as well as your curatorial CV and a short biography of the artist (max. 1 page each).

Please send your application via e-mail to Alya Sebti (head of ifa Gallery Berlin): sebti_at_ifa.de

Deadline for applications is Wednesday, 15 November 2017.

The applications will be reviewed by a jury and the decision will be communicated by the end of November 2017.

Who can apply?

  • Excellent emerging curators from/based in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia
  • Applicants with no or little prior work experience in a German context
  • Applicants with a significant background in critical approaches and some substantive experience in curating exhibitions and/or related projects
  • No age restriction

What does the residency comprise?

  • Living expenses: EUR 1,200/month + accommodation costs
  • Accident/health/liability insurance
  • Travel expenses (return flight, economy class), visa fee
  • Realisation of exhibition project




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).