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By announcing the opening of this exhibition, the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) and the National Museum of Namibia (NMN), are showcasing their collaborative efforts to create a safe space for the Namibian artist and researches their perspectives based on engagement with archival communal knowledge. Together with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN), the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), the University of Namibia (UNAM), the University of Bonn, and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC) of Namibia, the institutions present the Artistic Research and Communal Knowledge: Reconnecting with Returned Cultural Belongings Exhibition, otherwise known as ARCK. This ground-breaking showcase opens on Thursday afternoon, 11 April 2024, at 17h30 at the National Art Gallery of Namibia and looks to enlighten exploration into the origins of Namibian material culture.

The Artistic Research Communal Knowledge: Reconnecting with Returned Cultural Belongings (ARCK) project, co-funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, is a sub-project of the larger Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures Project (CCP, ECF) which is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. It targets the last part of the title Envisioning Creative Futures, bringing together contemporary artists, knowledge keepers and artisans in Namibia to develop new, more equitable ways of sharing knowledge and skills across generations and urban-rural divides.

At the heart of the CCP, ECF project is the collaborative research into 23 culturally and historically significant belongings that returned from the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin to Namibia in May 2022, as well as the historical collections at the National Museum of Namibia.  Contemporary artists and knowledge keepers worked together to reactivate the knowledge and skills related to the belongings. Ultimately, this collaborative research and creation process highlights the importance of understanding, sharing, caring, and developing further cultural heritage to create a better future. 

As a result, the project contracted five artists, namely Tuauovisioua Katuuo, Keith Vries, Nesindano Namises, Prince Kamaazengi Marenga, Vitjitua Ndjiharine worked closely alongside seven community researchers: Munu Godfrey Kuyonisa, Immanuel Xamro !Keib, Ngombe Ngarerue, Iyaloo Moshana, Tamace Rabbie Naici, Riana Vries and Bonifasius Mushongo, who served as researchers and translators of communal knowledge, commonly understood as oral histories, performative knowledge, and artisanal skills, preserved, and cared for within communities despite their violent suppression during colonialism and continued marginalization after Namibia’s independence.



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Thursday, 13 June 2024