Richard Kofi (1988) is a visual artist, artistic researcher and curator based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Through his decolonial approach he mainly focuses on contested heritage and issues of representation and memory. He creates drawings, paintings, publications, develops exhibitions and offers guidance. Through these practices he explores stories of unfinished, interconnected histories and imagines their afterlives in the future.
"When I was young my father made sure I looked good. He told me that if people were to call me a dirty 'n-word', and I knew I wasn't dirty, they had to be racists. The enemy." Kofi's series The Spirit of Collection has forgotten histories, memories and heritage as its protagonists. Some of them have lost their physical bodies or disappeared in museum depots and archives. They are only alive in folklore, folktales and in spirit. With his drawings, paintings, writings and exhibitions he reactivates them, to give them an improved embodiment and a new voice. Their new bodies reflect their attitude and character, their agency, imagination and optimism. They come from a time when freedom, justice and equality were still worth fighting for.
When exploring these themes and practices questions arise. Is Black or migrant heritage considered Dutch? Can they ever become Dutch and be part of the canon? What happens when we creolize the canon? Does Black heritage remain Black when it becomes Dutch? What do colonial collections that are still being kept in the Netherlands say about the current Dutch collective identity? In what ways do these objects inform 'us'? And what happens when they leave? Or when they die?