INTRODUCTION MARIE KÖHLER
The history of Western capitalism and globalization is closely linked to the history of colonialism. This history has led to a colonial order and colonial relations that still exist in the post-colonial present time.
These so produced conditions are structurally inscribed into both the colonized and the colonizing societies and are reproduced in images and language on a daily basis with real consequences. Thus, Western assumptions and values continue to be propagated as universally desirable and the power of action is still largely owned by white people. Mechanisms of control and economic exploitation still exist today, being based on traditional structures, patterns and practices of the colonial era.
Among other things, they also lead many people in colonized societies to regard their migration to Europe or other major economic blocks, such as China, as the only way out of their not self-inflicted and not selfdetermined misery.
In my artistic work, I deal with these colonial patterns and the still existing, even subtle dominance relationships, and try to make them visible in their complexity. In the last few years I have been using various established art disciplines and focusing in my self-staged work on the relationship between Europe and Africa. The works include installations, which use the space as a stage, containing photographic series and video pieces, sculpture/ found objects and sound, all being set up in a contrasting way.
In addition to that, as part of my exhibitions, I try to initiate lectures and podium discussions, in which these issues are stressed in detail, and in which a large number of approaches from different disciplines is compared and discussed. The starting point and basis of my work are always experiences of shifts and dissolutions of perspectives and mutual role attributions – which, by this means, contain an utopian potential.
The main focus of my work in the recent years is on the different stereotypical travel events to Africa, especially in the context of charity, which often derive from a desire for the experience of being different and at the same time serve to establish and confirm one‘s own identity. And the phenomenon of development aid and helping in an unequal relationship is being discussed as an ambivalent problem: the established constructions of Western superiority and the necessity of civilization development of the less civilized others is affirmed and colonial relations are underpinned, by simultaneously concealing those
power and exploitation relations, while at the same time a desire for change and personal contribution to a fairer world order is expressed. Though this desire sometimes takes desperate expressions in ways, in which the alleged helper unfortunately does not always do good.