the pathological museum 2019

The Pathological Museum started off as an observation/acknowledgement of the effects colonisation has on me – both conscious and subconscious – the "sickness" or pathology identified as being ‘colonial parasites’ of religion, imperialism and language. I was the host. A religious, consumerist, english speaking product of assimilation. 

As the project unfolded it became more about human nature and I began to realize that I am unable to renegotiate my hybrid identity – an amalgamation of two worlds, something both new and old, like so many other [African] millennials. The museum is now an account on the innate human desire for power and our tendency to destroy that which we do not understand. Mostly represented through the colonial account. 

The text I first encountered was the following:

“Beware of close proximity to native quarters, especially at night (fig.1). For this reason in all our stations in Tropical Africa, the native quarters are separated from those of the Europeans. The native is a pathological museum. His blood harbors malarial parasites, filarial worms and, it may be, the origins of the germs of sleeping sickness.

Many sorts of worms infect his bowel. On his person fleas are frequent guests.

The floor of his quarter is apt to be infected with disease germs. Keep him at a distance. For this reason the white man is safer camped far from a native village than near it ; the immediate vicinity of the village should always be avoided."

 

-DARCH CATALOGUE - Dar es Salaam: A history of Urban Space and Architecture.,2017

The phrase "The native is a pathological museum" had the tone of a violence that was so ignorant it was almost comical. The premise of the work is a critical outlook on the recording of history, perspectives of identity (specifically the westernised African) and the ignorance of archives.

Special thank to Asteria Malinzi, Toyota Tanzania and the Artist Residency of Kigamboni for their support.

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© 2021 by Valerie Asiimwe Amani.

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