For its eleventh edition, LagosPhoto Festival turns its gaze to the burning political, civic and
aesthetic ramifications of restitution. It re-routes the optic and debates from Paris,
London, Amsterdam and Berlin back to the African continent. Relocating discussions on the
return of cultural heritage, it steps aside from the opinions of experts and museum
directors and turns its attention to those citizens, friends and families for their response to
the museum of the future. Here restitution and photography are made for one another.
While soul and identity lean on longing and memory, photography flickers in the
imagination helping to recall and remediate latent knowledge.
With Rapid Response Restitution, LagosPhoto20 embraces the potential for a decolonial
“citizens’ history”. Home Museum is a model for a new kind of citizens’ institution, one in
which each member of society can contribute to the collective perception of cultural
values, and address questions of restitution directly and without delay. Achieved through
the democratic medium of photography, LagosPhoto Festival has created a digital Home
Museum with over two hundred participants from the African continent, the US, South
America, China, Russia, and Europe.
The launch of Home Museum’s open call in May 2020 was synchronous with the virulent
first wave of the Corona pandemic. With mobility and access to exhibitions severely
hampered, LagosPhoto Festival began to imagine a new way of building a digital museum through an
extended concept of the home. Between 21st May-21st August 2020, two hundred and
forty individuals from around the world responded to the open call, which was sent out
through social media. Written in Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Swahili, Wolof, Pidgin, English,
French, Russian and Chinese, it was drafted as a letter to a friend, an invitation to take part
in co-creating a new digital museum. “As we go about our busy lives,” it read, “we often
forget the small things worth preserving – objects that are important to each person,
family and home. Some treasures we use every day, some we keep, some we hold close,
some we lose, and some are simply forgotten and not preserved at all. All these things
bring back memories and tell stories about our culture and history in ways we don’t always
The numerous contributions that were received testify to self-empowerment in image making
both technically, aesthetically, and in terms of cultural agency. By sharing these images
online, Home Museum hopes to spark off conversations, ask questions and open up
transcontinental dialogues on suppressed cultural heritage. It seeks to remediate the
compromised history of photography with regard to its colonialist ontology, and
consciously holds back from imposing hierarchies or classifications onto the images sent in
by the co-creators. All participants have been generous in sharing images of their objects
of virtue and relaying personal meanings in a deeply colloquial and often eloquent style.
With Home Museum, the channel of text and the medium of photography speak of a
common ground as well as the sensibility of each participant.
The digital Home Museum invites the visitor to enter into new infrastructure designed by
the artists’ research cooperative Birds of Knowledge. Through random navigation you can
wander through the visuals, sense the photographs, and discover the poetics of each
person’s text. Alternatively, you can find friends and artists in a more systematic manner
using the A-Z. By combining different entries into a personal assemblage, you can curate
your own online collection, and initiate conversations with other participants. The texts,
written by each co-creator of Home Museum are personal, often beautifully drafted
testimonials that extend beyond any museum label or photographic caption. For this
reason, they have their own space on the website as Kindred Narratives. Together texts
and images reveal the memories and the realities of home life as a crucible that crosses
over all categories and ages.
Birds of Knowledge has designed the infrastructure and visuals for Home Museum. With
origins in Nigeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, China, New Zealand, Turkey, Finland, Norway,
Sweden, and Germany, this self-elected group of young artists and designers currently
studying at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts (HfBK) reflects the cultural and geographic
diversity of the participants of Home Museum.
Home Museum is the trigger to new ideas around museums and what they could become
in the 21st century, a museum driven by visual conversations and kindred narratives rather
than colonial systems of classification.
For more information please follow the direct link.