“Berge Versetzen / Moving Mountains”

Vanessa A. Opoku, PARA Collective

As an artist, she is concerned with history, technology, and marginalised narratives. In her artistic practice, she reflects on how to connect art, science, and technology in order to change our perception of our surroundings. Her preferred media is 3D graphics, animation, sculpture, photogrammetry, sound, and AI. She is part of the artistic collective PARA: their interdisciplinary and site-specific installations and performances address chronopolitics, future heritage, and speculative emotions.

She lives and works in Berlin, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree with Tina Bara at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (HGB) Leipzig. She is a winner of „gute aussichten // new german photography 2021/2022“. Her work was exhibited at Église Palermo, Grassi Museum Leipzig, Künstlerhaus Dortmund, Halle 14 Leipzig, and Mutable Studio Los Angeles, with solo shows at Synnika Frankfurt and Times Museum’s Huangbian Station Contemporary Art Research Center (HBS) in Guangzhou, China.

About the work:

“Berge Versetzen aims at restituting the summit stone of Mount Kilimanjaro, which colonial geographer Hans Meyer took from the highest mountain range of the African continent to Germany in 1889. For this purpose, the artist group PARA invites the public to purchase replicas of the mountain peak, which will be produced at the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde in Leipzig and sold as part of this crowdfunding campaign.

In 1889, Leipzig colonial geographer Hans Meyer undertook an expedition to the Kilimanjaro-massif in present-day Tanzania, which was then part of the German East Africa colony. During the trip, Meyer removed the top of the highest African mountain and renamed it Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze (‘Kaiser Wilhelm Peak’). The summit stone was sawn into two parts. Meyer gifted one half to the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who had it mounted in the New Palace (Neues Palais) in Potsdam. These days, it is considered lost. Meyer’s inheritors sold the other half to an Austrian antiquarian.

„Berge Versetzen“ is a collaboration of the Tansanian artists Rehema Chachage and Valerie Asiimwe Amani with PARA: they approach the stone from two perspectives. Chachage and Amani reflect on the echo of emptiness, the colonial exploitation caused. Their work evolves from the experience of the gap, due to the missing piece. PARA questions the ownership of the other, remaining half of the stone.

With a view to returning the summit stone, PARA, in its exhibition Berge Versetzen, invites the public to strip away the building fabric of the GRASSI Museum through performative acts and to produce replicas of the stone using the material obtained. These can be purchased at the exhibition and on this website. The proceeds of the sold replicas will help repurchase the actual summit stone from the antiquarian’s inventory at cost price. The ethnographic museum housing the looted objects of colonised societies will thus become the raw material for the restitution.”

See also:
@Twitter (PARA)