A sincere thank you to everyone who came out to participate and help with filming great scenes that will be included in upcoming documentary Forget Winnetou! Going Beyond Native Stereotypes and as production extras for the DVD! It was a beautiful and sunny afternoon in Germany beside the picturesque Tegelsee in Berlin. As I am almost exclusively “behind the camera”, it was nice to finally see myself in photos, which were taken by Viveka Frost and Haven Smith, who are part of our team.
Three years ago I wrote an article for Indian Country Today Media Network, which was titled “Naked Faux Savages and Neo-Racism in Berlin”, to which I posted a link here on my blog. A particular museum in Berlin has chosen to have a theater troupe perform a fake potlatch ceremony, in which naked performers sexualized their interpretation of such an indigenous gathering. The museum’s director Viola König continues to work for the Humboldt Forum project, and to me symbolizes all that is wrong with the project: the entire idea and still being built edifice to its colonial brutality hidden behind a “civilized” facade.
The challenge and reality is European museum directors, curators, supporters and others, including many of the European visitors have benefited from white privilege and supremacy for centuries, educated to believe this is civilized, conservative behavior to preserve what remains of certain cultures and peoples for posterity. This is the lie of the whole thing, and ignores the crimes against the survivors who have been petitioning and ignored though rightfully demanding their peoples objects be repatriated.
When anyone has been taught that culturally abuse, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and misattribution is normal, who have been taught to believe these things are civilized parts of their society, they keep perpetuating these crimes. Other challenges and realities is that there are persons who work for Humboldt forum and/or within the German (colonial) museum system who recognize and admit these are stolen items but who wish to keep their jobs.
On 15 October I will participate is a two-day event titled, “Prussian Colonial Heritage”, which discussions and challenges the continuing colonial practices and behaviors where Europeans justify and excuse the monumental crimes against other cultures, primarily those of people of color, and their refusal to return stolen objects, sacred items and even the remains of indigenous peoples and others. Protests against the project have continued before and since the foundation stone was laid in 2013, and the Humboldt Forum’s planned completion is 2019. Another protest is planned for 20 September, as members of various organizations such as Post-Kolonial Berlin, continue to work a forcible change in policy and protocols at HF and other museums.
From the 2014 article at ICTMN: “The Ethnological Museum continues to be the center of controversy regarding cultural insensitivity, misinformation and shock-value displays of indigenous items from around the world. One such was a display case of sacred Native items alongside a crushed Budweiser can and empty flask of whiskey, with a blurb stating that the biggest problem among Native Americans was alcoholism.
The museum’s director, Viola König, defended the sexualized performance and the museum’s collection. “Das Helmi were simply, playfully implementing all typical contemporary prejudices in a vivid, imaginative way to entertain,” she said. Regarding the controversial objects and displays in the museum, she said, “Organizers of the Humboldt Lab said, ‘Cultural appropriation is always a violent act, and direct or structural violence were likely used in acquiring many objects of our ethnological collections, but they still need to be shown.’”
French art historian Bénédicte Savoy recently quit the project, to the great consternation of the Forum, because of the continued ignoring of unethical procurement Humboldt has the opportunity to correct, but thus far does not. Even in the consultation work on the items and remains, indigenous persons, peoples and tribes are ignored in favor of Eurocentric German opinion.
I’ll be speaking on and sharing information about stolen sacred items, objects and human remains on 15 October at this conference. Learn more about the event and other details at the Facebook page.
On 12 Oct. I’ll be giving a workshop at the Brebit event “Fachtag ‘Entwicklungshilfe’ oder Reparationen?” Themes of rethinking Columbus Day, indigenous activism, and contemporary issues. Find more details at their event page.
Aug.24-I’ll be part of a Pop-Up Cinema #10 Q&A with audiences, along with Jason Ryle from imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Event in association with Berlinale NATIVe and Humboldt Forum. Free admission to see this terrific drama-comedy “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” directed by Taika Waititi.
Synopsis: “The rebellious Ricky is growing up without parents and the child welfare agency places him in a foster home in a remote part of New Zealand with the pragmatic Auntie Bella and her grumpy husband Hec. Ricky feels at home there for the first time ever – but then Auntie Bella dies and Ricky is supposed to go and live with a new foster family. Instead he flees into the bush and has an incredible adventure with Hec, closely pursued by a police manhunt.”
In the third part of its programme, the Pop-Up Cinema is screening the 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an adventure comedy by Maori director Taika Waititi (whose other film credits include What We Do in the Shadows).
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
D: Taika Waititi
New Zealand 2016, 101 min
English with German subtitles
“Der rebellische Ricky wächst ohne Eltern auf wird und vom Sozialamt im „neuseeländischen Nirgendwo“ bei der pragmatischen Auntie Bella und deren griesgrämigen Ehemann Hec untergebracht. Hier fühlt sich Ricky erstmals in seinem Leben wie zuhause, doch dann stirbt Auntie Bella und Ricky soll einer neuen Pflegefamilie zugewiesen werden. Er flieht in den Busch, und gemeinsam mit Hec erlebt er ein unfassbares Abenteuer, während die Polizei mit einem Großaufgebot nach ihnen sucht.”
Das Pop-Up Cinema von Humboldt Forum und Berlinale NATIVe zeigt in seinem dritten Block die neuseeländische Abenteuer-Filmkomödie Hunt for the Wilderpeople des maorischen Regisseurs Taika Waititi (u.a. 5 Zimmer Küche Sarg) aus dem Jahr 2016.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
R: Taika Waititi
Neuseeland 2016, 101 Min
Englisch mit deutschen Untertiteln
I’ll be speaking at the Pop-up Cinema screening of “Reel Injun” on 27 July, with Berlinale NATIVe in association with Humboldt Forum. The event takes place at MACHmit! Kinder Museum at Senefelder 5/6 in Prenzlauer Berg, 10437, Berlin. Please follow BerlinaleNAtive to learn of upcoming events, as several more are planned through the end of summer, with films from around the world.