Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues

|2024-2026| Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues. Creative space for democratic conversations about the heritage of colonialism

Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues is a project funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The consortium, which goes beyond European borders, is composed of D6:EU and Xarkis (Cyprus), Interarts and La Bonne (Spain), H401 and Creative Court (Netherlands), MUNHAC (Portugal), Pro Progressione (Hungary), La Fabrique (Tunisia), BJCEM (Belgium), MUCIV and Museo Egizio (Italy) as partners and ECCOM who is the leading partner. D6 Culture in Transit (United Kingdom), European Capital of Culture Larnaka 2030 and The Art History and Theory Lab of the Cyprus University of Technology (Cyprus) are associated partners. Nubuke Foundation (Ghana), RCMG (United Kingdom) and MMHR (Cile) are subcontractors.

Europe’s artistic heritage is partly made up of artefacts from former colonies by means of war, plunder and misappropriation. Some collections have been built with the profits of colonialism, and increasingly to the public exploitation of this heritage for politically populist and nationalist discourse. With pressure from the grassroots pushing for a more democratic and egalitarian society, we have seen a strong public debate around issues related to the way in which our histories are edited and our heritage is presented, demands that are still valid today. From the removal of historic statues and proposals for new memorials, to demands for educational reform, the repatriation of looted artefacts and reparations; We are questioning the connection between past and present, questioning how national identities are forged and how systems and structures of oppression are upheld. 

Contested Desires: Constructive Dialogues – CDCD wants to creatively respond to one of the most important, and divisive, issues now facing culture: the legacy of European colonisation. In full recognition of the complexities of heritage, and of the ways in which it can provide identity and rootedness for some, whilst generating alienation and distress for others, the project will co-create spaces for difficult conversations using a bottom-up and collaborative approach based on artistic processes and capacity building activities.  

22 artists from 11countries will be commissioned to work with heritage partners and local communities, responding to contentious collections and sites. They will create new art works and exhibitions, enriched by workshops and public events, resulting in a body of new work that explores the issues from different social and cultural perspectives. A focus on social inclusion and audiences will mean that each commission is a driver of innovation and change, and the new interpretations and relationships will have a lasting impact on the partner institutions and their local communities. 

In addition, thanks to ECCOM’s capacity building programme for museum staff and artists will further explore the experience of the commission so that the learning they produce is widely shared in good practice guidance, publications and online. The most important outcome of the project will be to provide heritage professionals with methods, resources and – above all – the confidence to use contested heritage as a focus for constructive, democratic dialogue that reflects the best of European values and contributes to reconciliation across the divisions of the past. 


European Union


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Gruppo di lavoro

Cristina Da Milano
Pascuala Migone
Maria Francesca


Partner di progetto

D6 | Culture in Transit
Fundacio Interarts per a la Cooperacio Cultural Internacional
Pro Progressione
D6 Culture EU Ltd
Ministero della Cultura - Museo delle Civiltà
Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizie di Torino
Biennale des Jeunes Créateurs de l'Europe et de la Mediterranée
Stichting Herengracht 401 (H401)
Universidade de Lisboa
Stichting Creative Court
Associació Centre de Cultura de Dones Francesca Bonnemaison
Technical University of Cyprus
The Organisation for the European Capital of Culture- Larnaka 2030
Museum of Memory and Human Rights - MMHR
Research Centre for Museums and Galleries - University of Leicester
La Fabrique Art Studio


CONTESTED DESIRES: Constructive Dialogues - Creative space for democratic conversations




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