About

The research study Decolonizing Socialism. Entangled Internationalism (DECOSO) is a transhistorical investigation into practices from the expanded field of the arts situated in the socialist geographies of the global Cold War period in South-Asia, West-Africa, Latin America and East-Europe as alliances between the East and the South that came together in and via German Democratic Republic. The study aims to open up the entangled fabric between the macro-politics of state or party logics with the micro-politics of artistic collaborations or art-related practices as a really existing condition for techno-political friendships or solidarities. DECOSO contributes to unlearning the Cold War dichotomy of type-casting artists (or architects, writers…) from “the East” or “the South” as either dissidents (“the underground artist”) or conformists (“the State artist”). In other words, instead of attempting a historic reconstruction of cases or situations from a state-socialist cold war paradigm, the study situates, first, the historical within uncontinued mutations into contemporary as archival undercurrents, and second, insists to mobilize the micro-political as vectors that urge to move beyond the national towards an entangled internationalism vibrating in the contemporary.

Situated in the field of visual cultures as an expanded field, the cross-cultural and intersectional study uses existing approaches and develops specific decolonial research methods through a set of case studies. Decolonizing here addresses both the historical, i.e., to investigate power relations within socialist modernity itself acted upon practices of micro-political potency and social imaginaires within the expanded arts; and the contemporary, i.e., to consider the research itself as a displacement of problems as well as potentialities from internationalism to globalism, as well as from micro-political practices into a nation-state-funded project. Specifically the latter aspect reasoned the need to create an independent platform within DECOSO that operates under the frame or the name inter∞note.

The academic research part of Decolonizing Socialism: Entangled Internationalism. An Intersectional Study of Cold War Projects from East Germany in Cinema and Cybernetics with Relevance for the 21st Century, #184864, is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation between 2019 and 2024, in collaboration with the CCC RP Master and PhD-Forum at HEAD Genève, Urban Studies Department of University of Basel. It is institutionally located at l’Institut de Recherche en Art et Design (l’IRAD) of HEAD Genève, from where it also operates a research office. Curatorial and art-led research articulations are funded through collaborations with art institution, foundations or project spaces including Kunstverein Leipzig, Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, and further partners to come.

 

Team

  • Doreen Mende

    Doreen Mende is Principle Investigator of DECOSO. She is a curator, theorist, exhibition-maker, educator, associate professor of curatorial/politics and director of the Critical Curatorial Cybernetic Research Practices (CCC-RP), Master and PhD-Forum, at Visual Arts Department at HEAD Genève. Through various curatorial mobilizations, essayistic writing and academic publications, she has developed the concept of “archival metabolism” as methodology to foster a vocabulary for the geopolitics as well as chronopolitics of exhibiting practices and artmaking within a post-1989 world. From 2008-2015, Mende has been faculty member of the Dutch Art Institute and completing her doctoral studies in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2015. She is a co-founding member of the European Forum for Advanced Practices (EFAP), a co-founding member of Multiple Artistic Mobilities at University Zurich and acts as co-director of the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin. Since 2017, she has been routing the slow research work The Navigation Principle.

  • vinit agarwal

    vinit agarwal has been artistic/scientific collaborator for DECOSO between October 2019 and January 2021. Vinit has graduated in 2019 from Critical Curatorial Cybernetic Research Practices, (CCC-RP) at Visual Arts Department at HEAD in Geneva. He has worked for 8 years as a full-time software engineer post his bachelor in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the University of Rajasthan in 2008. Vinit has contributed various performative texts of theatre and poetry including The Dark Mountain journal, the Rosa Mercedes online journal, amongst others. Vinit maintains an active blog at tongues.xyz and remains affiliated to the project as Associate Researcher.

  • Lea Marie Nienhoff

    Lea Marie Nienhoff, joined DECOSO as doctoral researcher in October 2020. She is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social Sciences at the University Basel. From her master’s degree in Critical Urbanisms (University Basel and University of Cape Town) she graduated with a thesis on the decolonial politics of Mozambican contract workers in East Germany. Lea has previously worked as assistant director at Theater Freiburg and in cultural funding. She pursued her Bachelor studies in history, political science, and cultural studies in Freiburg and Warsaw.

  • Research Fellowship

    • Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh

      Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh academically trained as an artist and now practices as a curator and critic based in Kumasi, Ghana. Ohene-Ayeh’s work is compelled by the radical hope proposed by artist-pedagogue karî’kạchä seid’ou to “transform art from the status of commodity to gift”. Ohene-Ayeh led the curatorial team for Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace (A Retrospective of Agyeman Ossei ‘Dota’) organised by Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Tamale and Red Clay in Ghana (2020-2021). In the framework of decoso,  Ohene-Ayeh collectively works on the study Reflexive Tema and Global Elsewheres, enabled through the “Deviant Practice” Research Fellowship of Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven.

    • Ato Annan

      Ato Annan is an artist based in Accra, Ghana. With an interest in painting, installation, sound and video, he combines his artistic practice with curating projects with the Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana [FCA-Ghana]. Annan has been involved in many projects that diversify the field of contemporary art by offering tools to artists to enable them to participate in rigorous idea and research-based practices. These have been done through collaborations with the Global Critic Clinics, Independent Curators International and the Asiko International Art Residency of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. He is a member of the Exit Frame Collective, which consists of Adwoa Amoah, Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Kelvin Haizel and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh. The collective operates within the surplus of the collision between art and pedagogy. He was also one of the lead facilitators for the inaugural edition of CritLab, a project initiated by FCA-Ghana in partnership with Exit Frame Collective, blaxTARLINES KUMASI and SCCA Tamale. In the framework of decoso, Ohene-Ayeh collectively works on the study Reflexive Tema and Global Elsewheres, enabled through the “Deviant Practice” Research Fellowship of Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven.

    • Ibrahim Mahama

      Ibrahim Mahama was born in 1987 in Tamale, Ghana. He lives and works in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. His work has appeared in numerous international exhibitions including NIRIN, 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020); tomorrow, there will be more of us, Stellenbosch Triennale (2020); Future Genealogies, Tales From The Equatorial Line, 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2019); Parliament of Ghosts, The Whitworth, University of Manchester (2019); Ghana Freedom, inaugural Ghana pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale, Venice (2019); Labour of Many, Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017); All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice (2015); Artist’s Rooms, K21, Düsseldorf (2015); Material Effects, The Broad Art Museum, Michigan (2015); An Age of Our Own Making, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen and Holbæk (2016) and Fracture, Tel Aviv Art Museum, Israel (2016). In March 2019, Ibrahim Mahama opened the artist-run project space Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale, Ghana, followed by the opening of Red Clay in nearby Janna Kpeŋŋ in September 2020. Comprising exhibition space, research facilities and an artist-residency hub, both sites represent Mahama’s contribution towards the development and expansion of the contemporary art scene in his home country.  In the framework of decoso, Ohene-Ayeh collectively works on the study Reflexive Tema and Global Elsewheres, enabled through the “Deviant Practice” Research Fellowship of Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven.

    • Further Interlocutors

    • Permanent collaborators

      Prof. Dr. Kenny Cupers, Urban Studies Department of University Basel; Prof. Dr. Lukas Rosenthaler, Dr. Ivan Subotic, Daniela Subotic and Flavie Lauren of Data and Service Center for the Humanities (DaSCH); Patricia Reed, artist, writer, designer and co-founder of Laboria Cuboniks. Project partners: Nick Aikens, curator, VanAbbe Museum Eindhoven; Dr. Anselm Franke and Prof. Dr. Bernd M. Scherer, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

    • Advisory Board Members

      Dr. Kodwo Eshun, artist, filmmaker, theorist and co-founder of The Otolith Group, Berlin/London; Dr. Samia Henni, historian, theorist, educator, exhibition-maker and assistant professor in the department of Architecture Art Planning at Cornell University; Prof. Dr. Ute Holl, department media studies at University Basel; Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, artist, researcher, curator and PhD-candidate at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi/Ghana; Prof. Dr. Quinn Slobodian, historian of modern German and international history, department of History, Wellesley College; Dr. Susan Schuppli, artist-researcher, director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths and board chair of Forensic Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London; Aarti Sunder, artist and researcher, School of Architecture and Planning Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts; Prof. Clemens von Wedemeyer, artist, Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig;  Prof. Dr. Ines Weizman, director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture and head of programme of the MPhil/ PhD Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London.

    • Friends and interlocutors

      Jana Hensel, writer and journalist, Berlin; Joo Young Hwang, artist and researcher, Bussan/South Korea; Prof. Dr. Bärbel Küster, Kunsthistorisches Institut, University Zurich; Magda Lipska, curator and researcher, Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie / Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; Kilian Schellbach, artist and co-director, KV Leipzig; Eszter Szakacs, curator, researcher, director OFF BIENNAL Budapest and PhD-candidate at Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis of the University of Amsterdam; Katharina Warda, author, sociologist and PhD-candidate at Humboldt University Berlin; Ala Younis, artist, co-founder of the publishing platform Kayfa ta, Amman/Beirut; Dr. Zoltán Ginelli, historian, Budapest/Leipzig; Prof. Dr. Anthony Masure and Christelle Granite-Noble of l’Institut en art et design as well as Prof. Charlotte Laubard, Dean of the Visual Arts Department, at HEAD Genève, among others.

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