Les Archives Suédoise: An Intercultural Collaboration Around a Colonial Pile of Glass-plate Negatives

Cecilia Järdemar


This article will discuss the intercultural, collaborative art project Les Archives Suédoises, which brings a repressed part of colonial history into the open by re-contextualizing and reworking a hidden trove of historical glass-plate negatives photographed by Swedish missionaries in the Congo DR between 1890 -1930. Through a practice of inter-cultural artistic interventions, the material remains of the missionary project are investigated and reformulated; questioning Sweden’s colonial history, and simultaneously giving Congolese communities access to parts of their history lost in the process of colonization.

The project explores the possibilities of intercultural artistic interventions – is it possible to redress and reformulate our difficult shared history through a shared practice? How can we bring the past into the present in ways that consider the different needs in the Congo and Sweden? Is it possible to find new ways of conceiving of the narrative potentials of the photographic archive – beyond digital repatriation projects that strip images of their context and echo the exclusionary mechanics of earlier versions of the archive?  


Art; Colonial archive; Counter memory; Intercultural collaborations; Photography

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/10634


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Copyright (c) 2020 Cecilia Järdemar

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