Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues

Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues is a transnational project exposing the problematic legacy of European colonisation found in museums and heritage sites. Through artistic research and action, it will encourage understanding and reveal untold narratives to diverse audiences. 

From the Greeks to the Romans, from the Ottomans to the seafaring nations of Western Europe, Europeans have exploited, imposed and foraged cultures and communities to build their empires. 

In the shadow of the complex and contested legacy of colonisation, we are hearing a clear call for a reappraisal of the way in which histories are edited and people’s heritage is presented. 

From the removal of historic statues and proposals for new memorials, to demands for educational reform, the repatriation of looted artefacts and reparations; citizens are rightly calling into question the connection between the past and the present, interrogating the ways that national identities are crafted and systems of oppression are upheld.

Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues (CDCD) engages artists to consider the problematic legacy of European colonialism that is held in museum collections and heritage sites. With a focus on transnational exchange and learning, the programme offers unique opportunities for artists, curators and museums to explore the inequalities and gaps within the current discourse. 

Through residencies, exhibitions and events, the programme will share its findings with communities to build a shared understanding of this colonial past and what it means to different people. 

The CDCD partnership extends from Europe to Chile and Ghana, including ECCOM (IT), D6:EU (CY), Interarts (ES), Xarkis (CY), BJCEM (BE), La Bonne (ES), La Fabrique (TN), H410 (NL), Creative Court (NL), Pro Progressione (HU), Museum of Civilizations (IT), Museo Egizio (IT), National Museum of Natural History and Science (PT); associate partners Cyprus University of Technology (CY), D6: Culture in Transit (UK) and Larnaca European Capital of Culture 2030 (CY); and sub-contractors the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries at the University of Leicester (UK), the Nubuke Foundation (GH) and Museo del a Memoria (CL)..

The programme will launch in January 2024 and will follow with a global call for participating artists.

Image: statue of the ancient stoic philosopher Zenon in front of a district administration building of British colonial times, Larnaca. Photo: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay