Soft Soil III: Private Police Partnership NGBK
Online: On decolonising urban space

neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst - Online


With: No Humboldt 21!, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland ISD (Tahir Della), Berlin Postkolonial (Mnyaka Sururu Mboro), AFROTAK TV cyberNomads (Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi), Coalition of Cultural Workers against the Humboldt Forum (Raphaël Grisey, Laura Horelli & Tanja Ostojić), Dierk Schmidt.
Discussion moderated by Michael Küppers-Adebisi

In June, 2013, the initiative No Humboldt21! published a statement entitled “Stop the planned construction of the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace!”. The Berlin Palace was built in 1443 by the Hohenzollerns, who occupied it until 1918. This dynasty was responsible for the enslavement of thousands of people from Africa, as well as for genocides and concentration camps in Germany’s former colonies. No Humboldt 21’s statement makes clear that the German state’s decision to reconstruct the Berlin Palace disrespects descendants of the colonised worldwide, and lies in direct contradiction to the aim of promoting equality in a (post-)migrant society.

Despite the active work of numerous organisations, including the Initiative Schwarze Menschen im Deutschland and Berlin Postcolonial e.V., the Berlin Palace’s facade has been reconstructed on Unter den Linden – on the site of the German Democratic Republic’s Palast der Republic – where the Humboldt Forum will host over 500,000 ‘non-European’ objects, the majority of which were acquired through colonial conquests.
In May 2020, funded by private donations, a ›Reichsapfel‹ – a symbol of imperial power and Christian global domination – was added to the building. In response, the Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the Humboldt Forum (CCWAH) was founded to »tear it down and turn it upside down«.

In this discussion round, which will include a performative contribution from CCWAH, the following questions will be discussed:

  • What are the consequences of the State’s decisions around the Humboldt Forum for the ongoing work of decolonizing Berlin’s cultural institutions and urban spaces?
  • What role do donors from the private sector play in the decision-making around the reconstruction of the Berlin Palace?
  • How does the Humboldt Forum contribute to a new model of city marketing and gentrification? If lipservice to ›cultural exchange and diversity‹ here replace urgently necessary structural change, in what form can cultural workers and artisans take a stand against these developments and their deep repercussions for decolonial and critical cultural practice in Berlin?