Photo left, left to right: Col. Cecilie Kazaronda, Defence Attaché; artist, Ms Tuli Mekondjo. Photo middle: Ms Tuli Mekondjo; Col Kazaronda; Ms Michelle Farmer, First Secretary; Ms Avril Coetzee, Counsellor. Photo below: Detail from Ounona vedu (Children of the soil) (2023);

“Born in exile during Namibia’s war of independence (1966–89) and within the historical context of the trauma of the country’s past under Germany’s violent colonial rule (1884–1915), Tuli Mekondjo’s artistic practice has been a labour of belonging, re-creation, and restitution. Her work is based on the stories she carries with her from her family and community in Namibia— where she returned after the country gained independence in 1990—as well as in her persistent research with and against colonial archives. In Ounona vedu, Mekondjo recreates a series of fertility dolls, which were formerly passed down from generation to generation to practise motherhood and connect to fertility in her community, the Aawambo people, while her canvases recompose a context through which archival photographic portraits of Aawambo women return the colonial gaze. By burning, washing, embroidering, cutting, and mending, the canvases become a space of transformation, to heal and honour the interrupted ancestral lineages. Her works draw the viewer into the renewing force of life that bonds and births generations. Mekondjo proposes a reimagining of restitution as the restoration of ancestral fertility channels and their strength to remember and recreate beyond institutional museum repatriation centred on ownership.”  Commissioned by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), co-produced by Tuli Mekondjo and HKW, 2023.

Text by Paz Guevara, Handbook, Archive Books, Berlin, 2023: Quilombismo Handbook, HKW

left to right: artist, Ms Tuli Mekondjo; Col. Cecilie Kazaronda, Defence Attaché; Michelle Farmer, 1st Secretary; Ms Avril Coetzee, Counsellor

The Embassy Staff was received by the new Director of Haus der Kulturen der Welt, HKW, Mr Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung; right to left: Ms Michelle Farmer, First Secretary, Col. Cecilie Kazaronda, Defence Attaché; Ms Avril Coetzee, Counsellor; Mr Ndikung, Director HKW; Ms Rita Herkenrath, Assistant; Ms Tuli Mekondjo, Artist.

(Photo: courtesy, Ms Paz Guevara, HKW)