Fallen Figures

In a historic step forward towards decolonisation, on 23rd August 2020, the infamous U-bahn station M-Strasse in Berlin was renamed to Anton-Wilhelm-Amo Straße. The renaming has come after decades of activists pushing Black for change. The reluctance to rename streets, stations and take down statues of people who have been violent towards Africans reflects the extent of denial and avoidance of colonial history in the collective memory of German society. Yet, Germany’s colonial history is written all over its street names and statues. The city of Berlin is an unwitting exhibition of Germany's colonial past. 

The portrayal of people who have committed crimes towards Africans in public spaces with no tangible critical statements about them reinforces the unjust power of dynamics which made their crimes possible. 

As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum globally in 2020, the question of how European cities should deal with their colonial past, and in particular with colonial monuments has become more pressing. Notions range from the kind of anger that led to monuments such as that of Edward Colston in Bristol being torn down by BLM, to the argument that such statues should be preserved by Museums. This raises further questions: what statues are preserved by Museums in Berlin, and how are they currently being used to remember history as the museums claim? 

Fallen Figures published in 2020 explores the idea of a potential memorial to Europe’s colonial past from the perspective of the colonized countries. Everywhere in Ivory Coast, where Médine Tidou comes from, colonial memorials have a palpable presence through statues of former colonists at crossroads and magnificent buildings at the beach. From Black & White treatment to Color treatment, from a position of captivity towards freedom, the series tells a (hi)story of black empowerment in a different way.

Photographer: Médine Tidou

Concept by: Médine Tidou, Nora Chirikure & Tonderai Koschke, Our Voices Within.

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