Translating Pasts into Futures
Decolonial Perspectives on Things in Art, Design & Film
October 13–14, 2017, Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg


Speculations and fictions allow us to journey through time, drawing on the narratives of the pasts to craft and shape possible futures. These narratives have the potential to influence the present, and they call a linear conception of time into question. Stories shatter into fragments, bound together diagrammatically or as a bricolage, queering historical narratives, regimes, and geographies. 

What sort of futures will be created in the rereading of past eras? Is the future already colonized? What sort of postcolonial strategies are being developed in contemporary design, contemporary art, and film for the shaping and creation of possible futures? 

The conference focuses on observations of temporality with regard to the function, production, use, and significance of things in colonial, decolonial, and postcolonial contexts. Questions arising from this theme include: How does the temporal interchange of things come about? How should we deal with omissions and absences of things in archives? What sort of transformational potential is inherent in things, or assigned to them? Can things be translated, or do they themselves do the translating? Can things—or the way they are used and perceived—be emancipated from their contexts? 

The conference will takes place under the auspices of the interdiciplinary Research Group Translating and Framing. Practices of Media Transformations (Speaker: Gabriele Klein, Deputy Speaker: Claudia Benthien). The Research Group is funded by the Hamburg Research Funding (Landesforschungsförderung Hamburg) / Ministry of Science, Research & Equalities.

Concept and realization:
Eva Knopf, Sophie Lembcke, Mara Recklies, University of Hamburg and University of the Fine Arts of Hamburg

Participation is free of charge. We kindly ask you to register via email at

25. September 2017