Monumental Shadows – Rethinking Colonial Heritage

A participatory project series in public space on colonial traces in the culture of remembrance.

Monumental Shadows –
Rethinking Colonial Heritage

Monumental Shadows Berlin, 2021. Photo: Raisa M. Galofre Cortés

“Monumental Shadows” is an ongoing series of participatory art projects in public space. The focus is on the examination of colonial traces in today’s culture of remembrance. More information and images can be found on the project’s own website:

To kick off the project in 2021, Various & Gould, together with Colonial Neighbours (SAVVY Contemporary) and other artists, wrapped the Berlin Bismarck National Monument in paper over a period of weeks and then symbolically removed this wrapping from the pedestal.

Curated by Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, the pilot project was divided into four parts, so-called “Shadows”: Intervention, Performance, Workshop and Panel. Other participating artists included Daniela Medina Poch, Juan Pablo García Sossa, Thomias Radin, Jumọke Adeyanju, Natisa Exocée Kasongo and Delawhere. In the various formats, participants have addressed the traces and effects of colonialism up to the present day.

Various & Gould and cultural manager Noah Anderson are currently working on continuing the project series together with partner initiatives in other cities and countries.

Monumental Shadows @ “Bismarck-Streit”, Zitadelle Spandau

Links to Monumental Shadows

Project website:

Monumental Shadows on Instagram and on LinkedIn


Monumental Shadows Berlin, 2021

Project kick-off, Berlin 2021

Monumental Shadows Berlin was initiated by Various & Gould, in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours (SAVVY Contemporary).

The images show Shadow #1, the intervention at Berlin’s Bismarck National Monument. Photos and information on the other Berlin Shadows #2 to #4 (performance, workshop, panel) and a complete team list with all the people involved can be found at: There you can also find more information about Bismarck as host of the “Congo Conference”.


In the exhibition “Bismarck-Dispute – Cult Figure and Monument Toppling” at the Zitadelle Spandau, the Monumental Shadows video and the large fragments of the monument cast can be seen until April 1st, 2024.

Articles about Monumental Shadows (selection)

Brooklyn Street Art (BSA) | Monopol Magazin | Süddeutsche Zeitung | nd-aktuell


Monumental Shadows Berlin was documented by Raisa M. Galofre Cortés (Photos) and Frederic Leitzke / editude pictures (Video). Another photo is by Pierre Adenis.


Monumental Shadows Berlin was funded by  Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa des Landes Berlin and Berliner Projektfonds Urbane Praxis, with kind support of Zapf Umzüge.


“Monumental Shadows” is a participatory project in public space that takes the memory of colonial figures off the pedestal and shifts the shadows of history and the present.

Even as more and more European countries begin to come to terms with their colonial history, far-reaching shadows dominate their culture of remembrance. Formerly colonizing and colonized countries are linked by a complex, violent past that reverberates to the present day.

The art project “Monumental Shadows” explores memory culture through artworks and monuments that continue to inscribe colonial history in public space. In a combination of artistic collaboration, substantive debate and public discussion, the connection between colonialism and contemporary racism is made visible.

For “Monumental Shadows” a series of seven artistic paper impressions of monuments in Europe is planned. Against the historical background of the Berlin “Congo Conference” (1884/85), these are monuments that have a connection to European colonialism in Africa and are located today in countries that were significantly involved in the conference and continue to benefit from it to the present day.

The selected monuments and the historical figures associated with them are still positively portrayed or even glorified in the historiography of their respective countries (and beyond). In the process, the colonial exploitation and imperialist atrocities for which they are responsible are concealed, downplayed, or glossed over. On the one hand, their part in colonialism lies in the shadows for large sections of society, while on the other hand, their actions still cast a shadow over the lives of many people.

The aim of the project is to demonumentalize these monuments by symbolically lifting them off their pedestals and charging them with new meanings. The visual design of the cover refers to the respective monument and its colonial history. Through the lightness and malleability of the paper, their transience becomes visible.

Subsequently, the resulting impressions are performatively deformed in Ver-Formances and thus even become touchable. It becomes comprehensible: History is not static, and all people are part of it. The aim of Monumental Shadows to break the power of the white narrative on colonialism by proposing a change of perspective. In doing so, it is important to stop reproducing the Eurocentric view and narrative without comment.

It is long overdue to bring more light and attention to the historiographies and narratives of Black People and People of Color, which have often been silenced and ignored until now. Only when they are part of a shared culture of remembrance can a society become critical of colonialism and racism.