An ongoing extraction of cultural property has occurred in colonies outside Europe leading to the objectification of artifacts, humans, tools, sounds, instruments amongst other materials. This harboring of the objects in museums and institutions is unethical and problematic as the so-called objects’ are not regarded as objects in an African context. These are historical carriers, spiritual beings, and cultural entities that have been passed over generations and are meant to be learned from and act as reflections of past and future histories. Although these histories are not accessible to whom they belong to and impetus imagined histories of the past. The occident has accumulated most of these archives and continuously reproduces a colonial pattern in this discourse. Considering suppositions proposed by Bonaventur Ndikung, and Kofi Agawu on the archive, “Temporary Stored” questions and reflects on the significance of these sounds, objects, and instruments stored in ethnological museums. These museums and institutions have acquired objects through dubious conditions such as looting, theft, greed, and naivety of sellers, in the spirit of predator capitalism outside former colonies of Europe, eradicating histories, norms, and practices of these communities and countries. Additionally, with the fact that most of the archives have been contextualized from a European bias and an institutional ordering of knowledge, the presentation, descriptions of the sounds and objects often lose the relationship with their/ its inhabitants as the focus has been put primarily on the object and sound’ materialities leaving other significances of the archives. [Temporary Stored] focuses on a narrative throughout different sounds from the Sound Archive of Royal Museum of Central Africa repatriated in 2021 and reconfigured in an emancipatory sonic hearing of the archive through fixed media pieces and a radiophonic piece.
The restitution of stolen art objects is causing heated debates in the European museum landscape. However, the question of how to deal with immaterial heritage is just as pressing. For the sound artist Joseph Kamaru, sounds play a central role: Passed down from generation to generation, they create a connection between the past and the future.
In Temporary Stored Kamaru questions the importance of sound archives for the history of colonial violence. Using synthesizer sounds, field recordings and recordings from the archives of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, he is working on re-appropriating the stolen sounds.'
Special thanks to: Rémy Jadinon, Derek Debru, Daisuke Ishida, Jessica Ekomane, Marcus Gammel, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, UDK SoundS, Royal Museum for Central Africa, DEKKMMA, The Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research (CAD+SR).
The piece received an Honorary Mention at the 2023 Prix Palma Ars Acustica.