The Neues Museum by Kaléa Daniels and Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado

Kaléa Daniels

At the Neues Museum, the sub-level of the museum holds the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection). This exhibition gives visitors insight into what it looked like during ancient times. The Neues Museum, like many institutions of its kind, acquired the artifacts displayed in this collection either directly or indirectly from a process of theft. Yet, the genius and beauty of the work of this civilization are almost blinding despite the immoral and unethical practices from which the Neues did acquire these artifacts. From the artisans to the engineers, it is present that there is a level of mastery and intelligence in each field. During Christ’s existence, they had already invented combs, makeup applicators, handheld mirrors, and more. One of the most distinct inferences to note about the artisans of this civilization is that they were collaborative rather than individualistic. In a sculpture of the God Amun Ra in the form of a Ram with a Pharaoh, the sculpture not only holds beauty after withstanding hundreds of years of weathering and erosion, but it also contains information that this piece was made by more than one sculptor. In the ears, you can see that each one had its slight difference in its texture, yet still lays seamlessly into the rest. The impact of these tools is present today, exemplifying a way these ancient Black civilizations’ technology impacts the current day. Further, it is one of the many few representations of ancient Black civilizations to date, creating what can be argued as a form of resistance and counter-storytelling, largely when juxtaposed with the popular narratives that have been manipulated around descendants of Africa, especially in America where the media has propagated the idea of the lazy Black American since before the release of A Birth of a Nation in 1915.

Kaléa Daniels is a senior Studio Art major attending Colorado College from Hollis, New York. They are an Afrofuturist artist with a focus on sculpture who operates through her art as a window of healing. Kaléa is inspired by reparation work, funk, and soul music. In his free time, Kaléa enjoys reading, dancing, and designing.

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Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado

Upon attending the Neues Museum, I was blown away by the tomb walls, the coffins, the book of the dead scroll, the mask, and much more. This experience really helped me see how marginalized people have always honored the ones who came before them. When I think about the way afterlife exist for BIPoC communities, it is often centered around the idea of being dead together. Dead together also meaning no longer suffering together. The piece we read this week about counter-story telling, “Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research” by Daniel G. Solórzano and Tara J. Yosso, impacted my experience of the museum. I was seeing ways Egyptians told their stories and kept them alive with the use of the Book of the Dead, with miniature statues of Gods, with the symbolic carvings onto coffins, with the offerings on tomb walls. It was fascinating to see how common symbols that held after-life meanings were reused in a multitude of ways that produced a narrative. I am quite unfamiliar with marginalized communities in Germany at this point, but the art I saw reminded me they are still here and community amongst one another is valuable. Using counter stories to embrace one another is a survival tactic in some ways, but also has its roots in history.

P.S. All the jewelry was so beautiful, and the gold hoops were iconic!

Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado was named after her matriarchal grandmother Gloria, and many family members call her Gloria or Flaca. She was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and raised in Long Beach, California. She grew up with a Mexican stepfather, though, so she would consider herself culturally mixed. She’s the oldest immigrant daughter and a first-generation high school graduate. She got her passport just this year, and is now studying in Berlinso needless to say, she is (and about to be!) a well-travelled girl!

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The 2022 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

Click here to view a slideshow of pictures, and follow @FemGeniuses and|or @AudresFootsteps on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures and videos.

Multimedia Podcast Index:

The RomaniPhen Feminist Archive + the Romanja Power Walking Tour with Estera Iordan” by Christiana García-Soberanez
A Conversation with Jasmin Eding” by Eliza Strong
Jewish History & Culture Walking Tour + Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt with Adam Schonfeld” by Bridget Hanley
BlackEurope: The Beginnings of Black Self-Organization in Europe” by Erin Huggins
German Colonialism Walking Tour w/ Josephine Apraku + the Neues Museum” by Amalia Lopez
A Conversation with Sharon Dodua Otoo” by Latra Demaçi
The Wall Museum + the Berliner Unterwelten Tour” by Margalit Goldberg
Blackness in America and Europe: Where the Grey Space Exists” by Monica Carpenter
A Conversation with Dana Maria Asbury, Mona El Omari, and Iris Rajanayagam” by Vicente Blas-Taijeron
Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tour + the Urban Nation Museum” by Alexis Cornachio
A Conversation with Judy Lynne Fisher” by River Clarke
Queer Berlin Walking Tour w/ Mal Pool + the Schwules*Museum” by Riley Hester
A Street Art Workshop with Berlin Massive” by Judy Gonzalez

To read and|or listen to the finales and view the indices and slideshows for previous #FemGeniusesinBerlin, click here

German Colonialism Walking Tour w/ Josephine Apraku + the Neues Museum

by Amalia Lopez

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

On Tuesday, we attended a colonialism walking tour in one of Berlin’s thirty “African Quarters” in the neighborhood of Wedding with Josephine Apraku. The tour focused on several locations—including Ghanastraße, Petersallee, and Mockingbird square—where we discussed who and what had been memorialized by those names. This was especially relevant to me in light of the protests following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. These protests pushed for social change in many forms, including the destruction and removal of statues that memorialize colonialists and those who either enacted or fought for slavery. In Germany, similar discussions have happened regarding these and other street names.

For example, Ghanastraße ties back to Germany’s colonialism. Particularly, a German “fortress” on the Ghanaian coast and was part of the Atlantic Slave Trade. However, its existence is not often remembered or discussed. Similarly, Petersallee was originally named after colonialist Carl Peters who was a particularly violent man who was once called back to Berlin after burning down the homes of one of his former female partners and her new partner. However, his return home was not due to the violent nature of his acts but rather how it reflected on his country. In 1986, there was a big push by German activists to rename streets in a move to no longer honor German colonialism. In turn, the street underwent a “perspective change” and is now meant to honor Hans Peters who aided efforts against Nazis.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

As I stood there, looking up at this green sign learning about this violent man, I thought about what kind of violence is acceptable. Along these lines, Apraku told us that one of the ways people in power attempted to prevent resistance was by limiting enslaved people’s ability to communicate with one another. They intentionally placed people from different regions together on slave ships to prevent them from being able to organize. However, enslaved people continued to find ways to resist, including training their bodies using sports such as capoeira. Learning, understanding, and maintaining language is seen as violent under the eyes of colonialists. However, theft, murder, rape, and genocide are acts of cleansing and sovereignty, according to this logic. So, I stood there thinking about Carl Peters, his legacy, and how hard people have fought to preserve it.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

At the end of the tour, we visited a large panel planted in the ground. One of the first things you might notice is graffiti scribbled over it, random tags that covered up the German letters in certain spots. There are also two sides, each telling a slightly different version of the time period. One side showcased an image of a postcard depicting a death camp and colonialists standing over and holding human bones. The bones were being packed and prepared to be sent back home. I thought about the type of person who would purchase such a post card to write home to their own families. “Hi, Dear. My travels are going well. Hope to see you soon. Love, Mommy.” The normalization of Black pain in Germany has been long in its duration and yet most often remains unaddressed.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, we journeyed over to the Neues Museum to examine the exhibits. The museum had a beautiful, inviting architectural design. I have liked museum since I was a kid. I have been a big reader throughout my life—my books often accompanying me in restaurants and stores. In other words, I enjoy reading the descriptions and gaining more historical context. So, as I walked through the exhibit, this was my main focus. Reading and analyzing the written descriptions of stolen artifacts and art, one in particular caught my eye. It was the description for “The Repression of Chaos” formulated by Hermann Schievelbein, which was a large frieze high up on the museum walls in the “Greek courtyard” filled with natural light. It was towards the top of walls, so your neck needed to be strained to look up and examine the intricacies from 30 feet below. The description of the piece read: “King Sahurê, as hunter, slays wild animals and thereby subordinates nature which appears before him as personifications of fertility, handing him the fruits of the earth. The gods are shown bringing captive Nubians, Libyans, and Asians to the King, while order is being established in foreign affairs by the cargo ships bringing goods from Lebanon to Egypt.” The description insisted these men, these kings and their pawns of colonialism, were simply a natural occurrence. In fact, they boldly declare that enslavement is an act committed by god.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

I read and reread the second line, and I was dumbfounded by the lack of ownership in the art and its trailing paragraph—this courtyard connected to the Egyptian exhibit where many stolen artifacts sat behind broken glass looking both beautiful and mournful. I want to note that the Egyptian exhibit was almost entirely in the dim basement and the one area where sunshine poured down was dedicated mainly to the Greeks. These artifacts did not naturally arrive here, and surely god did not deliver them. One of the main sections of the Egyptian exhibit was dedicated to sarcophaguses. It was haunting as I thought about who once found rest in them, their bodies removed and placed elsewhere while this intricately decorated frame was brought here. Even in death, their bodies could not find rest or solitude.

As I walked through the other exhibits, such as the Greek exhibit, I thought about what could possibly rectify these thefts of life and love that were taken through such explicit violence. This is something Black Germans have been working through long before my three-week long study here. Organizations, such as Adefra, have worked to break down violence, isolation, and discrimination. They have found empowerment in unity and by prioritizing and appreciating one another’s stories, they break down these constructions. Resistance to colonialist ideologies comes in many forms: renaming, acknowledging, destruction, and listening.

Amalia Lopez is a rising junior at Colorado College. As a Chicana who grew up in Denver, she has a deep respect for social justice work and has seen its impact and essentiality in her own city. Specifically, unions, workers’ rights organizations, and Ethnic Studies has been of great importance to her and her parents. She plays rugby and has enjoyed athletics for the majority of her life. She loves to read poetry, and dancing is one of her favorite pastimes, as well as spending time with my friends. She’s a September Virgo, and she acts accordingly. She does not particularly care for fried eggs.