Research Article

Curatorial Practices of the ‘Global’: Toward a Decolonial Turn in Museums in Berlin and Hamburg?

Abstract

Who decides what is included in the contemporary canon of ‘global arts’? This empirical mixed-methods study examines how different notions of the ‘global’ are curated in so-called ‘global’ visual arts in two German museums. Decolonial aesthetics, postcolonial thought, and the provenance of exhibition objects have challenged the legitimacy of German museums and have triggered a debate on their Eurocentric perspective, their situatedness, the differentiation between artefact and artwork, and the reproduction of colonial thinking and patterns of domination. Although a critical turn in current curatorial practice can be observed, it is not clear whether this change is the result of a genuine effort to decolonize art organizations. In this regard, the potentials, restrictions and applications of academic concepts such as “anti-racist” or “postcolonial curating” are discussed. This study found indications of a decolonial turn in a predominantly White European curatorial practice and emphasizes the need for further changes to this context.

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