Philip Kojo Metz
© Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Louisa Marie Summer

SORRYFORNOTHING – a sculptural intervention

Philip Kojo Metz‘s work in the Berlin Exhibition prompts a closer look at Germany’s colonial past.

by Franziska Schönberner, Kulturprojekte Berlin

The history of German colonialism was long absent from the country’s consciousness. But the Berlin Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum sees a place for it – because as the seat of the German Empire, Berlin was also the source of German colonial policy.

With the invisible sculpture SORRYFORNOTHING, artist Philip Kojo Metz marks the blank space in public remembrance of the colonial wars and their victims.

Around 120 guests watched Metz’s art action on 24 October in the still empty space of the Berlin Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum.

Shot during the art action in BERLIN GLOBAL
© Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Louisa Marie Summer
The space held four large wooden crates, which were presumed to contain the sculpture. Then came the long-anticipated moment of unveiling – but the crates appeared to be empty and the sculpture invisible. The invisible sculpture was dedicated with a rite from the Akan people in Ghana. Musicians Miriel Cutiño Torres and Lara-Sophie Milagro accompanied the event with the premiere of the composition “Song for”. This work also addressed absence. The musicians were silent, and the vocals and sound collage were prerecorded.

SORRYFORNOTHING – eine skulpturale Intervention

Über die Vorbereitungen zu #SORRYFORNOTHING, den Transport zum Humboldt Forum und den besonderen Moment der Enthüllung und Einweihung, ist dieser Film entstanden, der die Komplexität der Kunstaktion zum Ausdruck bringt.

Monument in the exhibition space

Documentation of this action will be displayed in the “War” room of the Berlin Exhibition. The memorial itself will be cordoned off, and the floor marked.

How do you view your work SORRYFORNOTHING in connection with a new culture of remembrance for the colonial wars and their victims?

I try to find contemporary and appealing ways to evoke German colonialism, which has difficult and unpleasant associations. The focus is not always on the past, however, but also on the present. We Germans continue to derive substantial benefits from the global power structures arising from the colonial period. Maybe I can help alter our view of history and thereby also prompt a different and better understanding of our present situation.

Your work SORRYFORNOTHING will be part of the Berlin Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum. The location of the exhibition, namely the reconstructed Berlin Palace, has been the object of controversy.

Why are you showing your work at this site?

The “Berlin Postkolonial” association and its “No Humboldt21!” campaign have been stating in no uncertain terms for years now that the Humboldt Forum’s general outlook is eurocentric and restorational. I completely support this initiative. It calls for a boycott on working with the Humboldt Forum – which in itself is a type of absence. So the failure to show something is therefore also in line with “No Humboldt21!”.

SORRYFORNOTHING is my way of highlighting this skewed state of affairs, and the location is the best place to have an effect. I’m pleased to see the courage and commitment by the Stadtmuseum Berlin and Kulturprojekte Berlin in integrating my work into the Berlin Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum – which is where it belongs as part of the history of this city and state!


The questions were posed by Franziska Schönberner, a member of the press team for the Berlin Exhibition at the Humboldt Forum, for issue 1/2020 of the MuseumsJournal.