Looking at examples of presenting practices in Berlin and Toronto, this essay sketches the difficulties that arise when embarking on a curatorial practice with a decolonial impulse. This text is a partner to “On Smuggling and Drawing. A Conversation in Blocks”, a dialogue between curator Juana Awad and artist Luisa Ungar, written in 2020 and appearing in the publication Künste dekolonisieren. Ästhetische Praktiken des Lernens und Verlernens (edited by Julian Bauer, Maja Figge, Lisa Grossmann, Wilma Lukatsch; Berlin, Transcript Verlag, forthcoming.) But while the dialogue focuses on Ungar’s creation process of the over one hundred original drawings intervening throughout the publication, this essay brings to the forefront Awad’s questions about, and experiences and observations with the mingling of the curatorial and the decolonial, from her perspective as a curator and cultural worker.
Juana Awad is a Colombian-Canadian curator, and arts, culture and research manager based in Berlin. She studied Semiotics/Communication Theory (University of Toronto, CA), Drama/Theatre Studies (University of Toronto, CA), Fine Art Media (Slade School of Fine Art London, UK) and Cultures of the Curatorial (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, DE). Her principal interests lie in the intersections of knowledge and artistic practices, the effects of institutional processes on the production and reception of art, and the political potential of arts and culture presenting. She has been part of and curated for various academic, media and cultural organizations and institutions in Canada and Germany, and directed large presentation, capacity building and research projects. She currently acts as academic coordinator of the DFG Research Training Group “Knowledge in the Arts” at the Berlin University of the Arts.