GROUP50:50, a collective of artists from Congo, Switzerland, and Germany that explore the historical and current economic and political interconnections between their countries, will present »The Ghosts Are Returning«, a post-documentary music performance about seven pygmy skeletons brought to Geneva from Congo by a Swiss doctor in the 1950s.
Unlike many African skeletons languishing in the archives of European museums, the names, approximate origins, dates, and causes of death of these seven are known, and their descendants can be found within the nomadic Mbuti people of the forests of the Congo. But do these descendants want the skeletons and spirits of their ancestors back? Because what is rarely considered in the debate about restitution is that returning masks, skulls, and skeletons also bring back the spirits that the Europeans stole and locked away during the colonial era.
Together with the Mbuti, GROUP50:50 have developed a funeral ritual for the seven spirits – taking inspiration from traditional Congolese music, the funeral ceremonies and polyphonic chants of the Mbuti, and laments in the classical music tradition – in the hope that they will find peace. A project by PODIUM Esslingen with GROUP50:50 and the Centre d’Art Waza Lubumbashi.
The performance is preceded by »The Time For Denial Is Over«, two afternoons of discussions and talks at HAU2.