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Symposium: Translating Pasts into Futures

Decolonial Perspectives on Things in Art, Design & Film

Speculations and fictions allow us to journey through time, drawing on the narratives of the pasts to craft and shape possible futures. These narratives have the potential to influence the present, and they call a linear conception of time into question. Stories shatter into fragments, bound together diagrammatically or as a bricolage, queering historical narratives, regimes, and geographies. What sort of futures will be created in the rereading of past eras? Is the future already colonized? What sort of postcolonial strategies are being developed in contemporary design, contemporary art, and film for the shaping and creation of possible futures? The conference focuses on observations of temporality with regard to the function, production, use, and significance of things in colonial, decolonial, and postcolonial contexts. Questions arising from this theme include: How does the temporal interchange of things come about? How should we deal with omissions and absences of things in archives? What sort of transformational potential is inherent in things, or assigned to them? Can things be translated, or do they themselves do the translating? Can things—or the way they are used and perceived—be emancipated from their contexts?

Friday 13.10.2017
Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg, Lerchenfeld 2

Coffee Reception

13:00 Room 11
Introduction Round

Translation I – Materials
14:00 Room 11
knowbotique (Zurich): Psychotropic Gold
Lecture Performance

Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou & Sanne Sinnige (Brussels): Copper means Trouble
Screening and Lecture

Coffee Break

Stephan Köhler & Georges Adéagbo (Hamburg, Cotonou): Assemblages as Laboratory of Encounters – The Daily Practice and Diversity of Locations
Presentation and Artist Talk


Translation II – Movements
19:00 Aula
Anne Wetsi Mpoma (Brussels): The Use of Performative Arts as Contemporary Rituals to Demystify Colonial Archives as Ghosts of the Past

Alesandra Seutin (London): Across the Souvenir

Saturday 14.10.2017
Translation III – Objects

10:00 Room 11
Marie Kirchner (Hamburg): Objects Talking back: A Delegation of the Assembly of German Colonial Heirlooms

Jorinde Splettstößer, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Marlon Denzel van Rooyen (Berlin): Colonial Neighbours – A Participatory Archive Project on German Colonial History

Coffee Break

Jana Seehusen & Veronika Darian (Hamburg, Leipzig): Detournement of Things
Lecture Performance

Alyssa Grossman (Gothenburg): Unfixing Museologies: Seeing Through Objects in the Ethnographic Archive

Lunch Break

Translation IV – Archives
14:00 Room 11
Cornelia Lund (Hamburg): Looking Back into the Future. Rethinking Archives in Relation to Decolonial Futures

Arine Kirstein Høgel (Aarhus): Re-mediating Danish Orientalism / Film: Glob and the Creation of Knowledge
Screening and Lecture


Kitso Lynn Lelliott (Johannesburg): I was her and she was me and those we might become
Exhibition Screening

Concept and realization: Eva Knopf, Sophie Lembcke, Mara Recklies
University of Hamburg and University of Fine Arts Hamburg

Participation is free of charge.
Please register via email at
and stay both days if possible.

This event takes place under the auspices of the interdisciplinary Research Group Translating and Framing. Practices of Media Transformations. (Speaker: Gabriele Klein, Deputy Speaker: Claudia Benthien).

The Research Group is funded by the Hamburg Research Funding (Landesforschungsförderung Hamburg) / Ministry of Science, Research & Equalities.

Art defies Corona: Graduate Show 2020

With a two-month delay, the Graduate Show will take place this year on the 19 and 20 September. More than 140 students will show their artistic graduation projects, from painting to sound installation. Visitors are invited to view the numerous works on site from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A specially developed corona concept will take care of your health during this weekend. We are looking forward to your visit!

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

New articles at is the social network of the HFBK. It opens a digital forum for exchange and discussion in which students, teachers, guest authors, art critics and the interested public provide a wide range of content and perspectives.

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?

Annual Exhibition 2020 at the HFBK

The HFBK’s traditional annual exhibition („Jahresausstellung“) opens in February every year. For three days the students – from first-years to post-graduates – present a broad spectrum of their current work and projects from all the different departments. All classrooms, studios and halls in the building are used. Interested visitors are cordially invited to gain an impression of the art currently being created at the HFBK.