Christian Etongo interviewed by Marcio Carvalho

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For Fanon, struggles for decolonization are first and foremost about self-ownership. They are struggles to repossess, to take back, if necessary by force that which is ours unconditionally and, as such, belong to us. What strategies you use in your art practice that might defy forms of knowledge, remembering and forgetting?

My artistic approach today is based on the Memory. Individual memory which allows the human being that I am to advance the community, the society in which I live. My approach is the collective memory of the people or the community of which I am a part of.

 In terms of colonization, my duty is to know the History and to start the process of decolonization, to leave the chains of the memory of this history.

Today there is a gap between image and essence. Images they can distort the essence of a people, a place, a culture, etc, making them distorted, unworthy. Does your work try to restitute both, for better understandings of what lies behind stereotypes and epistemic colonialities?

I try first to return the truth to be able to say what happened. The aftermath is important, as an artist I have to carry the message for the rehabilitation of the values of our peoples – these lost values for the benefit of the oppressor. It is important to redefine our culture in order to move forward in this global world.

Today it’s impossible to talk about knowledge without tapping into education. It seems that our education systems they became quiet obsolete in their pedagogies and their forms of knowledge. We still study based on Eurocentric views about the world, which in turn deprive students from a better understanding about the past and consequently a lack of tools to deal with and imagine many presents and futures still to come. What is your opinion about how academy is dealing with knowledge? And If you could use art, or art systems to decolonize the university and make it more pluriversity, and to re-invent the classroom, what would you do?

The Academy as the System manages to manipulate education. We live in a consumer society, in a society of lies and interests. It is imperative to redo the education system, because the academy teaches what suits a person and who defends the interests of the System. That’s why we artists have often had problems at the university where everything is well framed.

During my interventions at the university, students are faced with the reality of the field, not that of books. My strategy is to let the student discover his own abilities by encouraging him to do research by themselves. The presence of the teacher is just a support to guide them to find their way and their own experience.