What makes nature the other? What role does the decoupling of nature and culture play? And how can we decolonize our view of the world? The performative conference UNEXPECTED LESSONS #2 – Decolonizing Nature will focus on anti-colonial approaches to nature – both in Kenya and Iceland – against the backdrop of the relations between the Global North and the Global South.
A filmstill from the film "Wild Relatives" by Jumana Manna (2018). The image shows the perspective as if one was looking at the blue sky while lying in grass, with some blades of grass covering the vision. A stylized asteriks overgrown with moss is photoshoped into the middle. Filmstill Wild Relatives, Dir. Jumana Manna In July 2022 the Think Tank Anti-Colonial Approaches to Nature took place in Nairobi. The event addressed seed archives and their colonial entanglements, colonization of land, lost indigenous knowledge on plants and medical botanicals, nature as an archive of memory and the philosophy of nature. The think tank brought together experts from different fields to reflect on the decolonization of nature.

The performative conference UNEXPECTED LESSONS #2 will take place from 13-15 September 2022 in Reykjavík. In dialogue with the Think Tank in Nairobi, it further expands the theme. What makes nature the other? Is the culture/nature dichotomy tenable at all? And how can we decolonize our view of the world? What does the colonization of “uninhabited nature” in the context of the vastness of the Icelandic landscapes mean? In light of todays’ climate catastrophe and the ongoing exploitation of natural resources, the role of nature not as an “object” but as an acting subject is central to both locations. Do we need a different way of thinking about nature?

The UNEXPECTED LESSONS are part of the long-term think tank and exhibition series Talking Objects Lab in Senegal, Kenya, Germany and beyond, which deals with the decolonization of knowledge and memory and explores plural forms and practices of knowledge of the African continent. The UNEXPECTED LESSONS are organic, they provide starting points and intermediate points, interweaving thematically with think tanks in Dakar, Nairobi and Frankfurt. With lecture performances, artistic interventions, poetry and a decolonized dinner, the program will engage with questions of decolonization on a historical as well as spiritual level.

Curated by Mahret Ifeoma Kupka (Frankfurt, Germany), Njoki Ngumi, The Nest Collective (Nairobi, Kenya), Chao Tayiana Maina, African Digital Heritage (Nairobi, Kenya), Isabel Raabe (Berlin, Germany)
More on Talking Objects Lab here

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Find a collection of all events here

13th September
Afrofuturistic Conscious Cuisine
A Decolonized Plate

Lecture and Dinner with Chef Kabui
Time: 7 pm 

14th September
Conference - Unexpected Lessons #2 - Decolonizing Nature
The event will be livestreamed here:
11.30 am Welcome Remarks
12 pm– 12.30 pm The Indigenous Forest - Input by Harriet Chebet Ng’ok (Harriet’s Botanicals, Nairobi)
12.30 pm – 12.45 pm Muthi (UK. 2017. 17min. Dir. Uriel Orlow)
12.45 pm – 1.15 pmNjoki Ngumi in conversation with Harriet Chebet Ng’ok
1.15 pm – 1.45 pm Digital Lesson from Nairobi #1 with Patrick Maundu 

1.45 pm – 2.45 pm Lunch Break 

2.45 pm – 3 pm The Intersection of Landscape and Memory - Input by Chao Tayiana Maina (Nairobi)
3 pm – 3.15 pm Memories of trees – tree routes and other Universes Poetic Intervention by hn. lyonga (Berlin)
3.15 pm – 3.30 pm Dogs Hunting in the Park - Artistic Lecture with Neo Musangi (Nairobi)
3.30 pm – 4.30 pm Telling Nature - About the Importance of Storytelling 
Talk with Chao Tayiana, hn. lyonga, Neo Musangi (Moderation Isabel Raabe)
4.30 pm - 4.35 pm Digital Lesson from Nairobi #2 with Anna Moraa (artist, LAM Sisterhood, Nairobi)

4.30 pm – 5 pm Short Break 

5 pm – 5.30 pm The Museum as Plantation - Lecture Performance with Ayesha Keshani
5.30 pm – 6 pm Do we need a different way of thinking? - Input by Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, University of Iceland
6 pm – 6.45 pm Talk with Ayesha Keshani, Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, Varna (Moderation Mahret Ifeoma Kupka)
6.45 pm – 7.15 pm Pumzi (KEN, ZAF. 2009, 33 min., Dir. Wanuri Kahiu)

7.15 pm – 7.30 pm Short Break (change of location)

7.30 pm Lucky 3 presents: Kamayan - At the Greenhouse - Communal Eating Experience with the artists collective Lucky3 (Reykjavik)

15th September
Film program
6.30 pm “Wild Relatives” (NO, DE, Palästina . 2018. 66min. Dir. Jumana Manna) 
8 pm “Theatrum Botanicum Trilogy” by Uriel Orlow
- “Imbizo Ka Mafavuke” (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) (2017. 28min. Dir. Uriel Orlow)
- “Muthi” (2016-2017. 17min. Dir. Uriel Orlow)
- „The crown against Mafavuke“ (2016. 18min. Dir. Uriel Orlow)
"Conspicuous Part" (DE, PL. 2018. 35min. Dir. Assaf Gruber)
UNEXPECTED LESSONS #2 – Decolonizing Nature is supported by Goethe-Institut London. The preparatory workshop "Anticolonial Approaches to Nature" in Nairobi was funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

  Logo Heinrich Böll Stiftung  East & Horn of Africa © Heinrich Böll Stiftung