In her artistic practice, Barby Asante focuses on everyday methods and strategies of decolonization to discuss the ways in which historical and personal events are remembered, misremembered, or forgotten. In many of her works, concrete physical as well as affective spaces are created to interrogate the politics of memory by examining the effects of political structures on mnemonic processes. By inviting others to contribute, Asante emphasizes her conception of an integral, collaborative, performative, and dialogic practice. The ongoing work Declaration of Independence recreates a physical space reminiscent of congressional chambers, where treaties of independence, trade deals, manifestos, and legislative policies are produced, negotiated, and approved. In this performative re-enactment, the forum-like space is inhabited by women of colour who engage actively as ‘contributor-collaborators’. Together they form a chorus sharing different personal narratives related to the legacies of slavery and colonialism as a response to Ama Ata Aidoo’s 1992 poem ‘As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence’. The voices come together in video installations, sound pieces, and live performances centring the role of women of colour in world history as a collective act of learning and healing.

Courtesy of BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Arts, Gateshead.

Work in the exhibition: Declaration of Independence (2017–ongoing), video installation, live performances, sound pieces, 52' 26''

A live performance of Declaration of Independence takes place on 12 August 2023.