Salon Sally Schonfeldt

Mar 28, 2019
Am Treptower Park, Berlin, Germany


Join us for the Salon:

Colonial Fantasies and Decolonial Mnemonics

Thursday 28th March, 2019, 3 – 6 pm

Karpfenteich at Treptower Park & Museum Treptow

we meet at the Treptower Park-side exit of the S Bahn station! If you have trouble to find us

please call: +4917683048414 (Aleksander), +4915771018471 ( Beatrijs)

free admission!

3 pm: S Bahn Treptower Park, we meet at the park-side exit and walk to the Karpfenteich
4 pm: we take bus 265 to Museum Treptow
4:30 pm: guided tour (in german) at Museum Treptow, Sterndamm 102, 12487 Berlin 

6 pm: End of the programme: refreshments at Cafe Foska, Sterndamm 85-87, 12487 Berlin

The first part of the Salon Colonial Fantasies consists of a site visit to the Karpfenteich in Berlin’s Treptower Park, where the first German Colonial Exhibition was held in 1896. Throughout this exhibition so-called ethnographic performances or Völkerschauen were on display, in which over a hundred people from Germany’s colonies in Africa and Oceania had been brought to Berlin and made to “perform” before multitudes of visitors, often under considerable duress. At the Karpfenteich today no traces of this harrowing colonial history are visible, there is no memorial of what people were unjustly made to endure here. By bearing witness to this site together, uncovering the layers of history held here and critically reflecting on them a process to open up a postcolonial culture of remembrance is envisioned.

The second part of the Salon Decolonial Mnemonics will be held at the Museum Treptow to deepen the contemporary reflection on the ongoing effects of Germany’s colonial legacy. In October 2017 the exhibition project zurückGESCHAUT (EN: Looking back at you!) opened here at Treptow’s local museum in a highly acclaimed co-operation between the museum itself and two local activist groups, the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland and Berlin Postkolonial. Acting as a counterpoint to the Museum’s own permanent display, the exhibition offers a powerfully decolonizing reflection on the German Colonial Exhibition and the people made to be “exhibited” there by reclaiming an active history of resistance and giving voice to silenced histories. The exhibition demonstrates what immense power decolonized historiographies can offer us and how important such contemporary mnemonics are for generating a politics of remembrance.
A guided tour in German will be given by the curatorial team from 4.30 – 6pm. (Translation into English can be spontaneously organised).

At the end of the Salon refreshments in the Fosca cafe bar across the street from the museum have been arranged to continue the conversation in a more informal ambient.


Over the past 6 years Schonfeldt has been conducting research into the colonial phenomenon of so-called Völkerschauen as part of her politically engaged artistic research practice, in which she seeks to elaborate alternative postcolonial narratives critically examining European systems of “scientific” knowledge. Her previous research however has mainly been conducted within a Swiss context where the debate surrounding past colonial violence feels (unduly) less heated . Continuing her research whilst here in Berlin, within the context of a vigorous and often highly divisive German re-appraisal of it’s own colonial heritage, has provoked a deep period of self-reflection in her own position in contributing to decolonial historiographies as a person of white European heritage. Inspired by the numerous highly active and engaged postcolonial activist groups in the city, who are agitating for change and demanding recognition of the damaging repercussions of the colonial legacy here, this process of self-reflection has provoked a productive challenge on how to further deal with such entangled histories in a generative, intensely reflected way. The Salon is conceived as opening up a dialogue within this self-reflection to communally reflect on how to deal with our colonial pasts.

Sally Schonfeldt (*1983 in Adelaide, Australia, lives and works in Zurich) investigates in her works how knowledge is produced and established. She questions who wields power over determining history and memory. By using historiography to question methods of knowledge production in relation to anti-colonial discourses and the position of women in history she repeatedly challenges Eurocentric historiographies. Her works seek to generate alternative possibilities of interacting with history and contribute to the construction of new narratives in juxtaposition to those enshrined within the Eurocentric canon. Schonfeldt shares the results of extensive archival research in experimental video essays, films, lecture performances or exhibition displays.

This event is part of Air Berlin Alexanderplatz Salon presentations. We thank Pro Helvetia for supporting the Salon.

Copyright ISD-Bund e.V.

Links to the exhibition and for further reading: