“Snare for Birds” begins with Dean Conant Worcester and an inventory of 3,781 photographs concerning the Philippines which he sold to a German merchant named Georg Küppers-Loosen over a hundred years ago.

My encounter with images of the early years of the American conquest of Philippines consisted of mostly images from the Philippine-American war. These were landscapes of trenches strewn with dead bodies of Filipino revolutionaries.

In Worcester’s historical photographs of the Philippines taken from 1887-1907, there are few traces of the war. Instead, the collection is filled with carefully captioned pictures of the living— identified, filed and organized according to location and ethnicity. On the one hand, I revelled at this encounter with images of our people from that period that showed our flesh and manner of dress. Even our existing infections, wounds and scars, meticulously documented and framed.

But on the other hand, these very same images began to disturb.

I soon realized that I was wrong to say that these images held very little about the war. These images are very much suffused with the war. The making of these photographs, from their capture down to the writing of the captions and their eventual exhibition and circulation performed and reified the erasure of a new republic.

From December 2020 to May 2021, I will be delving on these photographs and publish the process online. I will also be sharing this platform with other Filipinos, notably visual artists Lizza May David, who will be working from Berlin, Germany, and Jaclyn Reyes who will be working from New York, USA. In this artist residency-lab, we aim to zero in on specific themes that can be found within the collection of images.

By sharing our process of reading and rewriting these images as artists and Filipinos, we hope to contribute to a vibrant discussion about the role of photography in our history. It is also my prayer that by delving into this research and through our rearticulation of colonial photography, we will have a more nuanced understanding of our visual history as well as reclaim museum archives as active sites of resistance.

Kiri Dalena


RESIST! The Art of Resistance
29.1.2020 – 11.07.2021
Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum – Cultures of the World, Cologne

RESIST! illuminates 500 years of anti-colonial resistance in the Global South and tells about colonial violence and oppression and its continuities. The exhibition pays homage to the women and men who resisted in the most diverse ways and whose stories have hardly ever been told or heard to this day.

In a labyrinthine, futuristic architecture of pipes, beams, stones and steel elements, designed by the architects raumlaborberlin, the works of over 40 contemporary artists from the Global South and the diaspora tell stories of rebellion and war, violence and trauma as well as survival and resilience. Their stories are complemented by historical documents and numerous objects from the RJM collection, silent witnesses of moments of anti-colonial resistance. Within this labyrinth, 4 curated autonomous rooms, the so-called “It’s Yours!” rooms open up further perspectives: The Nigerian artist Peju Layiwola deals with the looted arts from the Benin Kingdom (Nigeria), of which there are also many in the RJM collection, and invited other Nigerian artists, musicians, poets and cartoonists widening her perspective. The Namibian activists Esther Utjiua Muinjangue and Ida Hoffmann speak about the genocide of the Herero and Nama in Namibia, the first genocide of the 21st century. The Hungarian curator Tímea Junghaus has invited Sinti and Roma artists, the biggest minority in Europe who emphasise the embodiments and narratives of Sinti and Roma resistance as a central aspect of their own experience. Finally, the Cologne postmigrant association In-Haus e.V. laments racism and colonial continuities.

Dance and music of resistance has a place in the exhibition thanks to Rokia Bamba, sound artist and DJ who develops a sound and voice archive of resistance, and to the urban dance choreographers Bahar Gökten and Daniela Rodriguez Romero who explore embodied resistance.

Numerous participatory formats such as repair and writing workshops, storytelling cafés, a growing “Library of Resistance” and live speakers with whom visitors can engage in dialogue offer a platform for critical examination of colonialism and its continuities and also create spaces for discussions, listening, networking, being together and solidarity.

Curators of the Autonomous Spaces “It’s Yours!”
Esther Utjiua Muinjangue & Ida Hoffmann, Peju Layiwola, Tímea Junghaus, Integrationshaus (In-Haus e.V.) Cologne-Kalk with Elizaveta Khan, Mona Leitmeier, Sae Yun Jung, Salman Abdo and Rita Bomkamp

Artists in Residency
Rokia Bamba (Music), Bahar Gökten & Daniela Rodriguez Romero (Urban Dance), Kiri Dalena (Colonial Photography), Francis Oghuma (Real Time Documentary)

Participating Artists
Florisse Adjanohoun, Christie Akumabor, Osaze Amadasun, Kader Attia, Roger Atikpo, Belkis Ayón, Marcel Djondo, Omar Victor Diop, Nwakuso Edozien, Robert Gabris, Jimoh Ganiyu, Anani Gbeteglo, Ayrson Heráclito, indieguerillas, Patricia Kaersenhout, Eustache Kamouna, Grada Kilomba, Mohammed Laouli, Alao Lukman, Peter Magubane, Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Medu Art Ensemble, Luiza Prado de O. Martins, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Keviselie/Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Monday Midnite, Franky Mindja, Gaëtan Noussouglo, Lapiztola, Nura Qureshi, Emília Rigová, Mamadou Sall, Juan Manuel Sandoval, Diego Sandoval Ávila, Selma Selman, The Singh Twins, Alfred Ullrich, Huỳnh Văn Thuận, Kara Walker, Wantok Musik Foundation, Tania Willard, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Ernesto Yerena

Exhibition Design

Exhibition Graphics
Elsa Westreicher and Thomas Quack

The Project is supported by
The German Federal Cultural Foundation, Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, F. Victor Rolff Foundation, Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, the Museum Society and the 360° Fund for New City Cultures programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. The “360° Fund for New City Cultures” programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation supports cultural institutions in dealing more intensively with migration and cultural diversity and in creating new access and visibility for groups in society which have not been adequately reached so far. To this end, the model programme promotes a variety of approaches aimed at opening up the programme, audience and staff to diversity.

Deutschlandfunk is the media partner of the exhibition.

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