Berge Versetzen
(Moving Mountains)

2022 — ongoing

Site-specific installation, as part of the new permanent exhibition, Performance, at GRASSI Museum Leipzig

PARA + Rehema Chachage + Valerie Asiimwe Amani
Attempt at participatory restitution.

Speaker: Tale Al-Deen
Sound Design: Philipp Waltinger
Textile design beanbags: Henrike Schmitz
Graphic design: Insa Deist & Hjördis Lyn Behncken
Campaign website: Kolja Warnecke
Sound technology AVOID/DEVOID: Jason Langheim
Voice recording: studio lärm
Production: Julia Klinkert

In 1889, colonial geographer Hans Meyer undertook an expedition to Kilimanjaro in what is now Tanzania, then part of the colony of German East Africa. In this course Meyer removed the top of Kilimanjaro and renamed the peak Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze. The summit stone was sawn into two pieces. Meyer gave one half to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had it placed in the New Palace in Potsdam. Today it is considered lost. The other half ended up in the inventory of an Austrian antiquarian bookshop, where it has been for sale ever since.
In collaboration, the Tanzanian artists Rehema Chachage and Valerie Asiimwe Amani and the German artist collective PARA approach the stone from two positions. Chachage and Amani reflect on the echo of emptiness caused by colonial exploitation. Their work addresses the experience of emptiness created by the missing piece. PARA questions the ownership of the other half of the stone that remains.

With the goal of returning the summit stone, PARA invites the public to take down the building fabric of the GRASSI Museum in performative actions and to create replicas of the stone from the extracted material. These can be purchased in the exhibition and at The proceeds of the replicas sold will be used to enable the repurchase of the actual summit piece from the Austrian antiquarian. The ethnological museum that holds the looted objects of colonized societies becomes the raw material of restitution:

To raise the stakes even higher, PARA removed the top six centimeters of the Zugspitze on September 16, 2021. The peak, which is on display in the exhibition, is the hostage in the process of restitution. Only when the summit stone of Kilimanjaro returns will the top of the Zugspitze also be put back in its place.

Podium discussion in March 2022 at GRASSI Museum, Leipzig.
With: Yann LeGall, Mnyaka Sururu Mboro, Vanessa A. Opoku, Bastian Sistig, Valerie Asiimwe Amani and moderated by Susanna Jorek.
© 2024 Vanessa Opoku. All rights reserved.