Dekoloniale Berlin Residency 2024

Dekoloniale Berlin Residency 2024 in collaboration with Contemporary And (C&)

Now open for applications!

Deadline: February 7, 2024

Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City is pleased to announce the fourth open call for the Dekoloniale Berlin Residency 2024. We invite artists, architects, designers, directors, photographers, fashion designers or urban practitioners to apply for a residency at Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City of Berlin. As in the three previous editions, applicants are invited to uncover and transform historical colonial stratifications and dominant narratives in Berlin's public space. In 2024, Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City will focus on Berlin’s historic center and adjacent North Side, thus examining in depth the city districts of Berlin-Mitte with an emphasis on the neighborhood of Berlin-Wedding.

Dekoloniale Berlin Residency 2024:
»Colonial Ghosts – Resistant Spirits: Church, Colonialism and beyond«

The European colonialism was strongly linked to the dogma of the Christian churches. The ideology of the superiority of Christianity over other creeds – especially over non-monotheistic, religious systems of the Global South – legitimized the political, military and epistemic subjugation of non-Christians worldwide as well as their conversion. European Christian military priests blessed the ships and armies that set sail for the Americas, Africa, Asia and Polynesia in order to enslave and / or subjugate people and appropriate their land and possessions. Christian missionaries usually led the colonial penetration together with traders and soldiers, before the colonial administrators and settlers were to follow.

In 1884/85, Germany occupied large territories in Africa in today’s Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania [1]. In the late 1890s, possessions in East Asia [2] and the Pacific [3] were added. After those colonial empires of Britain, France, and the Netherlands, Germany was the fourth largest colonial empire at the time.

In 2024 Dekoloniale will closely collaborate with the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin (Berlin City Museum) as its institutional partner. The Berlin City Museum operates a number of museum sites in central Berlin – the Märkisches Museum [4] (Museum of the Mark of Brandenburg) being its foundational museum – however, we opted for its Museum Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), Berlin’s oldest church building which now houses a museum as the focal site in the context of the Dekoloniale Berlin Residency 2024. From their exhibited works in this central exhibition site the three residents will draw the connecting lines to one of three location options, in Berlin-Mitte (Berlin-Center) where they will artistically intervene in the public sphere.

[1] Genocide, concentration camps, theft of people, land and resources, forced labour, torture, rape, poll taxes, corporal punishment and Christian missionary ›work‹ were to characterize the approximately thirty years of German rule in the territories. During the bloody suppression of African resistance movements alone German soldiers killed about 400,000 people.

[2] Shandong province with the Jiāozhōu (Kiautschou) region and its capital Qingdao (Tsingtao) in China

[3] Samoa, New Guinea, and a number of Pacific Islands

[4] The heritage-protected building of the Märkisches Museum on Märkisches Ufer will be renovated in the coming years. In the meantime, the Märkisches Museum is closed. It was founded in 1874 as the "Märkisches Provincial Museum" by citizens interested in history. They were committed to collecting historical documents, deeds, coins, ecclesiastical artifacts and objects of prehistory and early history from Berlin and the Mark Brandenburg. The museum opened in 1908.


1. The Nikolaikirche as central exhibition site of the Residency 2024

The Nikolaikirche is located in the historic center of Berlin and dates back to the 13th century. The basement floors of the double tower are made of fieldstone and are considered to be the oldest preserved rooms in Berlin. The Nikolaikirche was not only a place of Christian faith and a burial place for rich and influential Berlin families. It was also a council church (the city's main church) and the scene of historical events. [1]

However, the history of the Nikolaikirche as a site of Prussian-Brandenburg colonialism and enslavement trade has been completely underrepresented and barely told. The Nikolaikirche is to be re-examined in the exhibition of the three Dekoloniale Artist residents 2024 from a decolonial perspective as an entangled place of colonialism, religion, politics and history-making of the Brandenburg-Prussian and Berlin citizenry.

The church is home to the tomb of Carl Constantin von Schnitter (1657-1721) [2], who, as the engineer/builder and commander of the Groß-Friedrichsburg fortress in present-day Ghana, was a representative and central actor of Berlin-Brandenburg colonialism and the transatlantic enslavement trade. A further interesting example is the tomb of the 17th Century Berlin entrepreneur and politician Johann Andreas Kraut [3] who is also buried in Nikolaikirche. The graves of many other Berlin citizens, whose biographies have been little or not at all researched and who have to be questioned about their colonial connections, are also located here.

[1] Historical events were a.o. the Protestant Reformation. The first city council elected after Stein's reforms met here in 1809. After the destruction of the Second World War during the 750th anniversary celebrations, the church was rebuilt as a prestige project of the GDR. In 1991, the first freely elected Berlin House of Representatives met here for its constituent session.

[2] Carl Constantin von Schnitter (1657-1721) - Engineer-Obrist, Fortress Commander: Schnitter came from a Böhmic-Kurbrandenburg noble family based in Upper Lusatia. After planning the construction of the fortress Groß-Friedrichsburg, he was commander of the colony of the same name from 1684 to 1686. From 1708 to 1712 he served as commander of Peitz Fortress and as Quartermaster General. Schnitter died in 1721 and was buried in the Nikolaikirche. The burial chapel, prominently located in the choir apex, which Schnitter had arranged for himself and his wife Emerentia Elisabeth née von Pufendorf, bristles with an overabundance of military motifs and symbols. It is the only one of over 100 gravestones in the Nikolaikirche that does without any Christian symbols or signs of death and transience.

[3] Johann Andreas Kraut (1661-1723) - Entrepreneur, banker, war councillor and minister: Around 1680 Kraut came to Berlin at the age of barely 20, acquired his first capital in the trading house of Westorf & Schilling (purveyor to the court and the army) and became its partner in 1686. In the same year, he founded the first Berlin gold and silver manufactory, which produced gold and silver wire and other jewellery for the army's uniforms. At the same time, Kraut was also entrusted with the treasury management of the entire army administration. As a banker and civil servant, he granted and procured loans for the state and thus earned a fortune as one of Brandenburg-Prussia's first war profiteers. From 1689 Kraut was war commissioner and continued to accumulate wealth through the accumulation of bloody money.


The founder of the Berlin City Museum: Ernst August Friedel [1] – a leading member of the Prussian colonial movement

The creator and, until 1906, first director of the Märkisches Provinzialmuseum, the foundational museum of the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, was the German administrative lawyer, local politician, historian and homeland researcher Ernst August Friedel (1837-1918). What is little known today is that Friedel was one of the passionate founders of the German colonial movement. As early as the 1860s, he proposed the establishment of Prussian colonies in East Asia and the Indian Ocean in one of his book publications [2], an idea that was only implemented decades later by the German Empire.

As a city councilor and director of the Märkisches Museum (Museum of the Mark of Brandenburg) and chairman of the Association for the History of Berlin, Ernst Friedel in his capacity as head of department in the Berlin magistrate's office was also responsible for street naming for many decades. In 1899, the Berlin magistrate proposed naming the streets between Müllerstraße and Jungfernheide in Berlin-Wedding after the ›colonial possessions of the German Empire. In doing so, the imperial capital wanted to emulate other European capitals, which also adorned their streets with the names of their colonial acquisitions [3]. Friedel also offered guided tours of the German Colonial Museum in the neighboring area of Alt-Moabit.

Accordingly, the foundation for the »African Quarter«, Berlin's colonial quarter, was laid in 1899 thanks to Friedel et al’s colonial propaganda efforts: The first two streets of the African Quarter, Kameruner Straße and Togostraße, were already named in 1899, when the majority of the neighborhood was still undeveloped.

The naming of streets with colonial references continued even after Germany's defeat in the First World War and the associated loss of its colonies in Africa, Asia and Polynesia: Further colonial street names were added during the Weimar Republic and in the years of National Socialist rule. Today there are almost 20 streets in the »African Quarter« that reference German colonialism on the African continent, including many that refer to Germany's (post)colonial and revisionist history from 1919 onwards. In December 2022, the first two streets that had been named after two founding figures of German colonialism in Africa – Lüderitz and Nachtigal – were renamed after anti-colonial resistance fighters and are now called Cornelius-Fredericks-Str. and Manga-Bell-Platz, respectively.

All three residents will show works in Nikolaikirche and additionally focus on one out of the three following relevant sites in the public sphere, thus connecting the dots of colonial continuities by means of their artistic interventions.

[1] More in-depth research on Ernst Friedel with regard to his colonial entanglements and activities is still pending - but the Stiftung Stadtmuseum is planning to initiate these processes in the year of its cooperation with Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City.

[2] Friedel, Ernst August: Die Gründung preußisch-deutscher Colonien im Indischen und Großen Ocean mit besonderer Rücksicht auf das östliche Asien, eine Studie im Gebiete der Handels- und Wirthschafts-Politik. Eichhoff, Berlin 1867

[3]Faust, Joachim, »Bunte Mischung Kameruner Straße: Western-Atmosphäre«, In: WeddingWeiser vom 18.12.2012:, abgerufen am 1.12.2023

1.1 The Subway Station »Afrikanische Straße« in Berlin’s »African Quarter«

One exhibition unit is planned for the Subway Station »Afrikanische Straße« and its surrounding »African Quarter«, Berlin's former colonial district, which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2024.

With its contemporary ›safari‹ wall design, the Afrikanische Straße subway station is a site that testifies vividly to the continued existence of persistent colonial fantasies of a »wild«, uninhabited African continent without culture and history – waiting to be developed by Europeans.

In the course of European colonialist occupation policies from the 15th century onwards, the pattern of defining conquered territories as nobody's land‹ and undescribed nature (»terra nullius«), whereby the people living there were incorporated as ›nature people‹, continued to be a central topos in the colonial penetration in the Americas, Africa and parts of South-East Asia and Oceania in the following centuries, right up to the imperial 19th century. Through this positioning, Indigenous societies were denied a claim to (rule over) their own lands. As any resistance was met with violence, indigenous societies and their religions, cultures and languages were annihilated in many global sites. In this way, the assumption that indigenous people had no culture or religion was both created and materialized. African, Black and African-diasporic creatives and activists in particular have vehemently resisted the European invisibilization and / or caricaturization of African cultures and religions.[1]

In the framework of the Dekoloniale Berlin residency 2024 the 14 large scale tiled animal and landscape images at the subway station »Afrikanische Straße« should be challenged, commented on, contextualized and deconstructed by the resident’s intervention.[2] Dekoloniale has made enquiries to the Berlin transport authorities about the possibility of a fundamental change to these murals, and is currently awaiting a response, obtaining such a permit seems somewhat unlikely, though.

[1] see for example Binyavanga Wainaina’s 2005 landmark text »How to write about Africa«

[2] For this purpose, in addition to the 14 tiled animal and landscape images themselves, some of the large rear track advertising spaces as well as analog advertising spaces in the subway station will be rented.

1.2 Colonial Asian and Polynesian Street Names in Berlin-Wedding

In 1897, the Chinese bay of Jiaozhou (German: Kiautschou) was occupied by German troops. The murder of two German missionaries on 1 November 1897 south of Shandong Province had served as a pretext for the invasion. A year later, the ruling Qing dynasty leased the bay to the German Empire for 99 years. Following this, members of the German Empire built a base, which was intended to serve as a military and economic demonstration of the power, prestige and influence of the German Empire in Asia as the »model colony« of Kiautschou. Three street names in the neighborhood of Berlin-Wedding reference German colonialism in Asia and Polynesia: Pekinger Platz, Kiautschoustraße and Samoastraße [1]. All were named in 1905 during German colonial occupation. The naming occurred shortly after the brutal suppression of the anti-colonial Chinese resistance movement Yìhétuán Yùndòng – referred to as the ›Boxer War‹ by Europeans – as a reminder of the supposed heroic deeds of the German imperial troops and their seven imperial Western allies [2]. A prime example of the German colonial mindset is the so-called »Hun Speech«, held by the German emperor Wilhelm II in the port town Bremerhaven on 27 July 1900, when he sent German soldiers off to China to crush the anti-colonial resistance. The Dekoloniale resident intervention here can be developed in synergy / close proximity to experts and activists from the Asian communities in Berlin who will develop a historic intervention in the framework of Dekoloniale 2024.

[1] In November 2023 the Bildungsnetzwerk China (German Network for Education about China) launched the German language audio walk »Ěrinnern: ein antirassistischer Audiowalk zur deutschen Kolonialgeschichte« (Remembering: an anti-racist audio walk on German colonial history) which had been conceptualized, written and produced by the journalist Charlotte Ming:

[2] An eight-nation alliance of American, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian troops invaded China.

1.3 The Berlin Conference

November 15th, 2024 marks the 140th anniversary of the start of the historic Berlin Conference (also: Congo Conference) of 1884/85. Germany was a colonial late-comer. Only after German unification in 1871, which replaced the thirty-eight sovereign German states with a unified nation-state under the leadership of Prussia and Chancellor Bismarck, did the acquisition of colonies emerge as a realizable political project. When serious colonial policy tensions arose between the major European powers England, France and Russia in 1883, Bismarck decided on a more active colonial policy: In the fall and winter of 1884/85, Chancellor Bismarck and the French foreign minister Jules Ferry jointly received the representatives of the 14 leading global powers [1] in the palace of the Imperial Chancellor (Palais des Reichskanzlers) in Wilhelmstraße [2] in Berlin-Mitte. With the Berlin Conference [3] the German Reich joined the circle of colonial powers. The Berlin Conference formalized the scramble for European possessions in Africa and their economic exploitation: Originally, in the framework of the Berlin Conference only the borders of the Congo Free State in Central Africa were to be confirmed by the European rivals for the colonial division of Africa. As a result, the Belgian King Leopold II was granted personal sovereignty over the Congo Free State, which brought him immense wealth and where he established one of the most cruel and violent colonial regimes [4]. In addition to these regulations, which gave the conference its widespread name, regularia were laid down on how to prevent or resolve the conflicts that had arisen or were beginning to emerge amongst the colonial stakeholders in the course of industrial developments in Europe and North America due to the opening up of new sources of raw materials and the creation of markets on the African continent.

Colonial expansion was ideologically justified and legitimized with a European ›sense of mission‹ and presumed ›civilizing mission‹. The associated construction of one's own superiority with the simultaneous devaluation of colonized societies is based on a constructed fundamental difference between colonizers and colonized, which is characterized by a racialized hierarchy and forms a central element of colonialism. The Berlin conference is also seen as the beginning of European 'development policy' towards Africa. At the conference, the European states for the first time formulated a joint 'development mandate' towards Africa.

Germany's formal colonial rule ended with the loss of all its colonies after Germany’s defeat in the First World War. However, the German colonial aspiration to regain their colonies continued well into the Weimar years and surged especially under national socialist rule, when a neocolonial propaganda machine was implemented.

For the last 20 years African, Black and African-diasporic groups and individuals have demanded that Berlin should establish a memory site or monument at the historic site of the Berlin Conference, in order to honor and remember the African victims / resistance fighters of / against European enslavement and colonialism. Annually around February 25th – the closing date of the 1884/85 Berlin Conference – a protest march underscores this demand.

The historic site of the Berlin Conference of 1884/85 which is now the project space of Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City in Wilhelmstr. 92 lends itself to artistic interventions in the project space itself or on the walkway and terrace in front of it. Our own »Dekoloniale [Re]presentations« team will curate a historic window exhibition in our project space – the artistic intervention of the Dekoloniale Residency could thus go into resonance with this historic exhibit in the same space.

[1] Representatives of the USA, the Ottoman Empire and the European powers Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden-Norway took part

[2] Wilhelmstraße 92, the historic site of the Berlin Conference of 1884/85, is now home to the project office of Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City.

[3] The record of the conference is printed in: Stoecker, Helmuth (ed.): Handbuch der Verträge 1871 -1964. Treaties and other documents from the history of international relations. Berlin:
Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1968, pp. 60-65.

[4] As many as 10 million people are estimated to have died in Congo from killings, famine and disease between 1885 and 1908 after Belgian's King Leopold II declared the vast territory his personal property. Under the mantle of propagating Christianity and trade in Africa, Belgium exploited Congo's riches, including rubber. Severed hands became the infamous symbol of the colonial state where officials brutally maimed those failing to deliver harvest quotas. Forced labor, corporal punishments, kidnapping, and slaughtering of rebellious villages were among other atrocities recorded during the period. As international condemnation grew, the Belgian state took Congo over in 1908. The country achieved independence 52 years later, in 1960.


The Dekoloniale residencies 2024 creatively connect contemporary art devoted to social change with historic moments in political activism, highlighting activities that seek to motivate broad and diverse publics. Exploring the complexity and possibility of artistic interventions in range, and impact of these artistic practices – including installation, photography, video/film, sound, projection, sculpture, painting, (fashion)design – the residencies are expected to expand over their course within this unique and dynamic framework.

Your Dekoloniale Artist Residency applications can focus on either:

  1. Nikolaikirche + Subway Station »Afrikanische Straße« (African Street) and the African Quarter
  2. Nikolaikirche + Colonial Asian and Polynesian Street names (Kiautschoustr./Samoa Street/Beijing Square)
  3. Nikolaikirche + The Berlin Conference / Wilhelmstraße

The three selected residents are expected to create artistic interventions in the main site (Nikolaikirche) linked to a site in the public sphere (Option A, B or C) and present them in the framework of the Dekoloniale Festival and the Dekoloniale exhibits on November 14-17, 2024.

The residents are encouraged to consider hybrid modes of thought, research, and practice. We favor forms of expression that expand disciplinary boundaries. In the context of the residency works at Nikolaikirche we encourage bold, larger scale interventions.

The residents are free to set their own artistic foci within the given framework of »Colonial Ghosts – Resistant Spirits: Church, Colonialism and Beyond«.

(Find a Handout of further supporting Questions here)

Speakers of all mother tongues are encouraged to apply, however please note that the three residents are expected to be able to communicate and collaborate in English. The residents are provided with travel costs, accommodation and a per diem in Berlin throughout the residency period, a production budget for the implementation of the project, and a fee.

The selected residents will have full access to the Dekoloniale project space, receive curatorial guidance and production support. Participation in the twice weekly Dekoloniale workshop series and consulting session schedule is mandatory.

The preparation for the Dekoloniale Residency will already begin on and after March 7, 2024, when active cooperation of the selected residents is required in order to enable the official permit application process for the urban interventions and in order to facilitate visa application processes (where applicable). Therefore only apply if you are available to communicate and contribute reliably in the months prior.

The production of the residency works in Berlin will take place within the period of 6 months [1] (from mid-May to mid-November 2024), with a public presentation on November 14-17, 2024 in the framework of the Dekoloniale Festival 2024. We expect to show the residency art works for a couple of months (tbd). For the running time of the shows, rights of use for the art works and associated images (such as photos) will be asked for by the Stiftung Stadtmuseum.

[1] This 6-month residency period is subject to funding by pending grant applications. If the funding should not be obtained, the residency will be shortened to a 3-month period, (thus: mid-August -mid November 2024).


Applicants submit their application to

  • A short motivation letter (max. 1 page)
  • A short description and visualization detailing your planned project (max. 1 page)
  • A 3-liner summary of your project, that concisely summarizes its essentials
  • estimate production budgets (please prepare two budget versions: one over max. 5.000 € and one over max. 10.000 €) in EURO [1]
  • CV (max. 2 pages)
  • Portfolio (max. 10 pages – 5MB)

The application process is entirely online. Please note that only complete applications containing all the documents listed can be considered.

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria: Their relevance to the tasks as described above, the contribution of the proposed project to the field of decolonial artistic practice; on its aesthetic merit – either as a form of knowledge or aspect of design and their feasibility.

[1] for estimate materials costs / art supplies you can consult the price lists in this Berlin art supply store:

About Dekoloniale and C&

About Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City

Using the example of Berlin, Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City tests – in a model approach – how a metropolis, its space, its institutions and its society can be examined for (post-)colonial effects on a broad scale, how invisible matters can be rendered tangible and how visible matters can be irritated. The participatory cultural project thus addresses a broad and diverse urban society. It does not only question individual stakeholders or domains – such as museums – about their (post-)colonial realities. With own activities and supportive collaborations, Dekoloniale stirs the entire city into action over the course of the project period.

About Contemporary And (C&)

Contemporary And (C&) is a dynamic platform for reflecting on and connecting ideas and discourses on contemporary visual arts. With a constantly growing network of voices, C& features and links multilayered work by cultural producers from the most various perspectives and contexts. By bringing together complex topics into accessible formats C& established itself as a platform for dialogue on the subject of contemporary art from Africa and the Global Diaspora with projects happening online, offline, and in-between through different formats such as C& Magazine, C& América Latina Magazine, C& Projects, or C& Education. C& has offices in Berlin and Nairobi and is accessed by people in around 120 different countries.

Residency 2024 ©
Residency 2024