Conference: Echoes of the South Atlantic, Berlin
The 'Echoes of the South Atlantic' conference on 10th and 11th July 2019 in Berlin, organised by the Goethe-Institut together with Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), looks into the future of South Atlantic relations and the role that Europe can play in them. What is the state of relations between Africa, South America and Europe today, after centuries of European hegemony and colonisation? The conference will take place as part of the 2019 Wassermusik festival at HKW in Berlin, which will have the theme 'Black Atlantic Revisited'. Until the fifteenth century, the Atlantic was the insurmountable border between Africa and Europe on the one side and America on the other. The history of crossing the Atlantic followed the well-known narrative of 'discoveries': colonisation, slavery, exploitation, migration and European prosperity. The exchange created a cultural dynamic that fundamentally changed all three continents. The Berlin conference will address the question of current relations between the three continents and come up with possible scenarios for future intercultural dialogue.
Alongside contributions from Paul Gilroy, Felwine Sarr, Achille Mmembe and Nanette Snoep, 19 artists from Africa, South America and Europe will present their projects illustrating the connections between the continents and asking questions about the cultural potential of South-South relations and the role that Europe plays, or can play, here. These include, Gabi Ngcobo, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Jota Mombaca and Michelle Mattiuzzi, among others. The projects take on a variety of themes, such as cultural traditions between the continents, post-colonial aesthetics in dance and performance and the sound of the South Atlantic.
The conference is the second part of the Goethe-Institut’s project Echos des Südatlantiks (Echoes of the South Atlantic), which is organising events in South America, Africa and Europe between 2018 and 2020 on the future of the South Atlantic. During this period, the participating artists and intellectuals will develop their own works, which will be presented at a closing festival in Africa next year.
Public Program of the Echoes of the South Atlantic Conference, HKW Berlin
14:00 – 17:30 | Panel talks on the projects and themes
All panels chaired by Ananya Kabir
14:00 – 15:30 - Panel I Collecting and Creating
Nanette Snoep – “Restitution: Snippets of stories and personal and professional memories of a museum professional”
Ndidi Dike – “Commodities of Consumption and Sites of Extraction in the South Atlantic”
Selene Wendt – “Listening to the Echoes of the South Atlantic”
16:00 – 17:30 - Panel II Explore and Encounter
Gabi Ngcobo/Thiago de Paula Souza – “I’ve seen that face before”
Paul Goodwin – “Black Is...Black Ain’t: Art and Refusal”
Kris Nelson – “Night Lift”
18:30 – 19:00 | Welcoming addresses
Bernd Scherer, HKW Director &
Johannes Ebert, Secretary-General Goethe-Institut
19:00 – 20:00 | Keynote: Paul Gilroy “The End of the Black Atlantic?”
This presentation will ask some provocative questions about the historical arc of the Black Atlantic formation. In particular, it will interrogate the place of racial difference and racial hierarchy in the current regimes of cultural and military diplomacy and the transformation of technological and communicative relations that has attended the rise of civilisationalist thinking and the resurgence of ultranationalism and fascism. Can the residues of the Black Atlantic archive yield resources for managing this crisis?
14:00 – 15:30 - Panel III | Dealing and Healing
Jean-Pierre Bekolo – “Colombiafrica Traducción”
Amilcar Packer/Anita Ekman – “Drafting beyond the Atlantic: Wombs of a Rainforest”
António Ole/ Nadine Siegert – “The Carnival Trilogy”
16:00 – 17:30 - Panel IV | Afrotopia and Radical Citizenship
Felwine Sarr – “Afrotopia,” response by The Otolith Group;
Elvira Dyangani Ose – “Radical Citizenship”
Mark Nash/Isaac Julien – “Lessons of the Hour” and other Atlantic-related works
17:30 – 18:00 | “Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass”
Video Performance by Isaac Julien
18:00 – 18:30 | “2021”
Performance by Michelle Mattiuzzi & Jota Mombaça
19:00 – 20:00 | Achille Mbembe “Deglobalization – Bodies as Borders
In this lecture, Achille Mbembe will reflect on the renewed investment in borders in the age of dematerialisation and high velocity. He will pay particular attention to the ways in which certain bodies and classes of populations are nowadays turned into mobile, portable borders. The consequences of these new ways of redistributing mobility and partitioning the Earth will be examined as well as what they entail in terms of a possible politics of the future world.
20:00 – 23:00 | DJ Samy Ben Redjeb
Panels and Projects
Scarcely a day goes by without a street named after a colonial hero being renamed, without a museum unveiling an exhibition revisiting the colonial past, without people asking for the recognition of genocide or a colonial act of violence being taken into account. Museums with ethnological collections have become political mine fields. Is this a new phenomenon or has it been so for a long time and why is this debate still so intensely emotional for museum professionals? In “Restitution: Snippets of stories and personal and professional memories of a museum professional,” Nanette Snoep recounts her experiences in the museums where she has been working since 1995. (10.7., Panel I, 14.00-15.30)
“Commodities of Consumption and Sites of Extraction in the South Atlantic” is a multi-media installation using materiality and geography as entry points into the colonial past of the transatlantic. It captures the need to find alternative ways to remember this painful past by looking to objects and spaces connected to that period. I aim to find innovative ways of understanding the past and an awareness of current economic and political imbalances. Being a Nigerian, both Portuguese and British colonialism play a significant role in my history. I seek to explore this through installing accruements of the traditional British high tea ceremony and other affiliations where these products becoming commodities were consumed. (10.7., Panel I, 14.00-15.30)
“Listening to the Echoes” is a multidisciplinary sound-based exhibition that conveys the importance of sonic politics and musical migrations in relation to the past, present, and future of the Atlantic Triangle, while also highlighting how this resonates in a European context. The exhibition explores the political, social and cultural implications of music, highlighting the significance of music as a mediator of cultural experience and history. It explores the socio-political implications of music in contemporary visual and performance art practices. Strong emphasis is placed on artists from the South Atlantic who are set in dialogue with voices from the North Atlantic to convey the importance of thinking in Glissantian terms about the idea of echos monde, understood as the world of things resonating with one another. (10.7., Panel I, 14.00-15.30)
“I’ve seen that face before” is a transdisciplinary platform inspired by complex encounters with entangled histories that have led to the creation of spaces for learning with rather than about that which has been historically interrupted or not yet possible in the present. For the conference Echoes of the South Atlantic Part II we will present ideas, encounters and historical backdrops that have provoked the project as well as fragments from recent research journeys in Colombia and Brazil. (10.7., Panel II, 16.00-17.30)
As part of their next festival in June 2020, LIFT will present a series of international queer performances called NIGHT LIFT. This platform will host the avant-garde of drag, trans-art, visual art, live art, video art, alternative cabaret and theatre artists and focus on the aesthetics of the Global South and international minority artists. NIGHT LIFT will strike against the current volatile and hostile political climate in Brazil and many South Atlantic countries towards queerness, introducing London audiences to these social and aesthetic urgencies. Artists who scrutinise and overturn common perceptions and taboos around gender politics, state oppression, racism, indigeneity, diaspora identity and the post-colonial experience will be centre stage. (10.7., Panel II, 16.00-17.30)
The presentation “The End of the Black Atlantic?” will ask some provocative questions about the historical arc of the Black Atlantic formation. In particular, it will interrogate the place of racial difference and racial hierarchy in the current regimes of cultural and military diplomacy and the transformation of technological and communicative relations that has attended the rise of civilisationalist thinking and the resurgence of ultranationalism and fascism. Can the residues of the Black Atlantic archive yield resources for managing this crisis? (10.7., Keynote, 19.00-20.00)
The transatlantic journey as a “surplace,” the identical. How can Quibdo be Douala? Entanglement is the explanation. A “spooky” action at distance with same behaviour. Looking for connection, faces, nature! Colonialism as separation, cinema as unifier, as healer, as a reinvention device for the Afros: “The New Blacks” is the tribe of Resistance. Reflections of the African thinkers and translation into music, dance, film.… Transatlantic narratives as a pretext for cinema that certainly does not yet exist, like the new Blacks from past, present and future. (11.7., Panel III, 14.00-15.30)
The paper “Black Is...Black Ain’t: Art and Refusal” will explore how and why African diaspora artists are increasingly calling into question conventional modes of representation in contemporary art practices. The paper argues that there is a critical genealogy of Black artists’ radical practice of refusing representation – a binary logic of presence – through a play on, or blurring of, the relations between presence and absence, inclusion and exclusion. The paper speculates that this tradition of radical refusal also engages a transnational or ‘trans-modality’ in terms of artistic and curatorial strategies that brings different worlds into relation. (10.7., Panel II, 16.00-17.30)
What if, instead of giving “Atlantic” the function of naming things, we would take it as a centrifugal force working within historical disputes to impose One Time and One Space? To draft beyond the Atlantic would attempt to present a few fragments (photos, videos, during a conversation) in the making of “Drafting beyond the Atlantic: Wombs of the Atlantic Rainforest,” to remap territories, art practice, narratives, beyond the Atlantic frame, and more precisely within places such as the Serra da Capivara and the Atlantic Rainforest in what has been named Brazil for more than 500 years. (11.7., Panel III, 14.00-15.30)
One of António Ole’s important film projects, “The Carnival Trilogy,” has been unfinished since the early 1980s. The first part of the trilogy covered the first carnival after independence in Angola (1977), the second is an unfinished documentary about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the third will be shot at the carnival in Bahia. Overall, the trilogy seeks to document the entangled history of the Black Atlantic through the cultural format of carnival. It tells a beautiful story of transatlantic connections, combining the Latin- and North American context with the African continent. This is a coproduction with Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth. (11.7., Panel III, 14.00-15.30)
“Afrotopia in the Echo of the South Atlantic” (11.7., Panel IV, 16.00-17.30)
Philosopher Henry Lefebvre explores the possibilities for communities to subvert official power and to create a space — a social space — according to their desire, making use of what he calls the “right to the city.” The Showroom Summit will gather a prominent group of community leaders, cultural agents, producers, writers, scholars and many more. They formulate their agency beyond the limits of a canonical criticism to engage with socio-political, theoretical, artistic and cultural processes for the reinvention of agency and self-governance within the given environment of our contemporary cities. They will embody a “new virtual subject” claimed by Lefebvre and will take the definition further into a futuristic imaginary. (11.7., Panel IV, 16.00-17.30)
“Lessons of the Hour” is a poetic meditation on the life and times of Frederick Douglass – a visionary African-American writer, abolitionist and a freed slave as well as the most photographed man of the nineteenth century. The ten-screen film installation proposes a contemplative journey into Douglass’s work and its continued relevance to the present. The film includes excerpts from Douglass’s most arresting speeches as well as references to his private and public life. The narrative is informed by some of the abolitionist’s most important speeches, such as “Lessons of the Hour,” “What, To the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” and “Lecture on Pictures.” The latter is a text that connects picture making and photography to Douglass’s vision of how technology can influence human relations. (11.7., Performance, 16.00-17.30)
“Rethinking the Aesthetics of the Colony” will consist of two artistic residencies with closed sessions and public programmes and a final exhibition. The project will be organised and conducted by three Afro-Brazilian artists and researchers – Denise Ferreira da Silva, Jota Mombaça and Michelle Mattiuzzi – who critically address aesthetic and ethical questions about the studies of philosophy and Black performance in their practices. What arises from fugitive planning? What are the economic effects of displacement in contemporaneity? What can displacement unfold into Black performance? (11.7., Performance, 18.00-18.30)
In this lecture “Deglobalization – Bodies as Borders,” Achille Mbembe will reflect on the renewed investment in borders in the age of dematerialization and high velocity. He will pay particular attention to the ways in which certain bodies and classes of populations are today turned into mobile, portable borders. The consequences of these new ways of redistributing mobility and partitioning the Earth will be examined as well as what they entail in terms of a possible politics of the future world. (11.7., Keynote, 19.00-20.00)
Redjeb is the founder of the German music label Analog Africa and describes the music he releases as twisted, psychedelic, hypnotic, mystic, sometimes quirky and always incredibly groovy. He aims to surprise the listener with these sounds, which are surprisingly rarely – if ever – released outside of Africa. He pays attention to contextualising the music in detail, adding rare photographs, interviews and full discographies in the liner notes. In recent years, Analog Africa has crossed the Atlantic and ventured into the genres from the Americas that were influenced by African folklore. In 2014, the journey continued into deep northern Brazilian waters. (11.7., Party, 20.00-23.00)
Jean-Pierre Bekolo is an avant-garde Cameroonian film director. He started his career by studying physics, then pursued film editing at the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel in Paris. From an early age, he directed internationally award-winning films that premiered at several festivals, among them the 2015 and 2018 Berlinale and the Film Festivals in Toronto and Cannes. He is a founding member of the World Cinema Alliance e.V. and has lectured at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Duke University. In 2015, Bekolo participated in the DAAD residency programme in Berlin and received the Prince Claus Award. Bekolo’s oeuvre consists of science fiction, thrillers, tales, comedies and (mock) documentaries. In his work, he seeks to overturn stereotypes of Africa and African cinema, refusing categorisation and advocating artistic freedom.
Tunisian-born Samy Ben Redjeb is the founder of the German music label Analog Africa. Starting his musical career by working as a resident DJ of a hotel in Senegal, he began organising weekly African music parties in Dakar. Through these he realised that his perception of African genres was riddled with clichés and in dire need of rethinking, which led to the founding of Analog Africa in 2006. Redjeb’s label picked up a number of awards and nominations, including the German Record Critics’ Prize in 2011 and a nomination for 2011 Label of the Year by Gilles Peterson.
Thiago de Paula Souza is a curator and educator with a background in social sciences who was born in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a fellow in the programme Propositions for Non-Fascist-Living organised by BAK (base voor actuele kunst) in Utrecht, Netherlands and a member of the curatorial team of the 3rd Frestas – Triennial of Sorocaba, São Paulo. He was also a member of the curatorial team of the 10th Berlin Biennial, entitled “We Don’t Need Another Hero."
Ndidi Dike is a Nigerian artist working across a multiplicity of fields. Renowned for her sculpture, she currently specialises on lens-based media, collage, video and installation. Dike was born in London and returned to Nigeria to study Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and to train as a painter. Her works address a range of subjects, among them pre- and post-colonial legacy of slavery, forced migration, identity, gender inequality and patriarchy. During the course of her career, Dike has participated in numerous local and international artist residencies and projects. Dike lives in Lagos where she runs her own studio.
Anita Ekman is a research artist from the Guaraní people in Brazil. Her main fields of interest are Rock Art, pre-Columbian Art and the history of Amerindian and Afro-Brazilian cultures, and more specifically the historical role of women. Her works are developed in collaborative performances such as “Tupi Valongo–Cemitério dos Pretos Novos e dos Velhos Índios,” with e.g. Marcelo Noronha, Sandra Benites, Hugo Germano, Nzo Oula and the Ocre project.
Paul Gilroy is a British historian, writer and academic who is Professor of American and English Literature at King’s College, London. Apart from many other awards, Gilroy is the 2019 winner of the prestigious Holberg Prize. He is known as a path-breaking scholar and historian of the music of the Black Atlantic diaspora, as a commentator on the politics of race, nation and racism in the UK and as an archaeologist of the literary and cultural lives of Blacks in the western hemisphere. Apart from many other works he is the author of "The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness" (1993), which marked a turning point in the study of diasporas. The publication inspired not only academics but many artists and cultural projects including the eponymous exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2004 and the Echoes of the South Atlantic by the Goethe-Institut.
Paul Goodwin is an independent curator, researcher and urban theorist based in London. Paul’s curatorial and research interests span the fields of art and migration, urbanism and critical curation. As a curator at Tate Britain from 2007-2012 he directed Tate Britain’s pioneering Cross Cultural Programme, a multi-disciplinary curatorial and programming platform exploring the impact of globalisation on contemporary art in Britain. He is currently Professor of Contemporary Art & Urbanism and Director of TrAIN (Transnational Art, Identity & Nation) Research Centre at University of the Arts London.
Since the late 1980s, Isaac Julien has exhibited in some of the most prestigious institutions worldwide, including two editions of the Venice Biennale and Documenta11. His works are included in collections including the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art New York, Centre Pompidou and the Guggenheim Museum and detailed in numerous publications including Isaac Julien: Riot 2014. Julien has held teaching posts at universities in the UK and Germany and, since 2018, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Among distinctions received are the James R. Brudner Memorial Prize from Yale University, a CBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 and the Charles Wollaston Award from the Royal Academy, where he was also made an Academician in 2018.
Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir teaches English Literature at King’s College London, focusing on the intersection of written text with other forms of cultural expression, including social dance and music of African heritage across different language worlds— a topic she explored, along with her multidisciplinary team, through an ERC Advanced Grant (2013-2018). For her innovative work in the Humanities, she received the Infosys Humanities Prize (2018) awarded by the Infosys Science Foundation, India. She is spending 2019 at the Freie Universität, Berlin, as a recipient of the Humboldt Forschungspreis (Humboldt Prize), awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung.
Michelle “Musa” Mattiuzzi is a performer, filmmaker, writer and researcher. She was born in São Paulo, where she studied Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University. Mattiuzzi participated in the 32ª and 33ª Bienal de São Paulo, as well as in the Capacete Residency Program in Athens for Documenta 14. In 2017, she collaborated with the city of Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro to present her new work “Whitenography” at the Implosion Exhibition. Her film Experiencing the Flooding Red was named best short film in the 10th Brazilian film festival International de Cinema de Recife. She currently alternatingly lives in Salvador and São Paulo.
Achille Mbembe is a Cameroonian philosopher, political theorist and public intellectual. His main research topics are African history, Postcolonial Studies and politics and social science. Mbembe is currently a member of the staff at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and also has an annual visiting appointment at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University in North Carolina. In recent years, he won several awards for his scholarly work, among them the esteemed German literary award Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in 2015 and the Gerda Henkel Prize in 2018.
Jota Mombaça is a non-binary bicha, born and raised in the northeast of Brazil, who writes, performs and investigates on the relations between monstrosity and humanity, kuir studies, de-colonial turns, political intersectionality, anti-colonial justice, redistribution of violence, visionary fictions, the end of the world and tensions among ethics, aesthetics, art and politics in the knowledge productions of the global south-of-the-south.
Mark Nash is an independent curator and film theorist. He has worked with Isaac Julien and the late Okwui Enwezor on a number of projects and exhibitions, including The Short Century in 2001 and Documenta 11 in 2002. His most recent publication Red Africa - Affective Communities and the Cold War (2016) developed out of his exhibition Things Fall Apart (2016). In the 1970s and 1980s, Nash was actively involved in British film culture as editor of Screen and as an independent filmmaker. His essays from that time are collected in Screen Theory Culture (2008). He is currently a Professor of the Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Kris Nelson became Artistic Director and CEO of LIFT, London International Festival of Theatre in 2018. From 2013 to 2017, he was festival director of the Dublin Fringe Festival, Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival and one of the world’s only fully curated fringes. Before this, Kris worked extensively in multi-disciplinary arts in Canada, where he founded the performing arts touring agency Antonym, curated the Encounters Series for Magnetic North Theater Festival and worked on a number of initiatives dedicated to artist mobility and unusual artistic practices.
Gabi Ngcobo is an artist, curator and educator living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since the early 2000s, Ngcobo has been engaged in collaborative artistic, curatorial and educational projects in South Africa and on an international scope. Recently she curated the 10th Berlin Biennale titled “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and was one of the co-curators of the 32nd Sao Paulo Biennale (2016). She is a founding member of the Johannesburg-based collaborative platforms NGO – Nothing Gets Organised and Center for Historical Reenactments (CHR, 2010–2014).
António Ole was born in Angola and studied African American Culture and Cinema at the University of California and film at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In the late 1970s, he worked for national television and produced a number of documentary films. He is distinguished for his photography, documentary films and large-scale multimedia installations. In these different formats and media, he explores the textures of life in marginal urban sites, (post)colonial histories and the material quality of found objects. He has exhibited internationally for more than 40 years.
Elvira Dyangani Ose is director of The Showroom, London. She is affiliated with the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths and the Thought Council at the Fondazione Prada. Previously, she served as Creative Time Senior Curator, curator of the eighth edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art and Curator International Art at the Tate Modern. She recently joined the Tate Modern Advisory Council.
The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun who live and work in London. Their work is research based and spans the moving image, audio, performance, installation and curation. In it, they incorporate filmmaking and post-lens-based essayistic aesthetics that explore the temporal anomalies, anthropic in versions, and synthetic alienation of the post-human, the inhuman, the non-human and the complexity of the environmental conditions of life we all face. In 2010 The Otolith Group were nominated for the Turner Prize.
Amilcar Packer is an artist living in São Paulo, Brazil. He develops an artistic practice based on actions, performances and interventions, which unfold in intersections between performative and discursive collaborative mid- to long-term initiatives for public programmes, mediation, research-based residencies, collective writing, translation and editorial projects.
Felwine Sarr is a Senegalese scholar and writer. He teaches at the University Gaston Berger at Saint-Louis in Senegal. His academic work evolves around epistemology, economic policies and the history of religious ideas. His recent publications include Dahij (Gallimard 2009), 105 rue Carnot (Mémoire d'Encrier 2011), African Meditations (2013 Registration Document), Afrotopia (Philippe Rey 2016), Ishindenshin (Memory of Inkwell 2017), Living the World (Memory of Inkwell 2017), Ecrire l'Afrique-Monde (a collective work co-directed by Achille Mbembé, Philippe Rey 2017) and Restore African Heritage (Philippe Rey / Seuil) with Benedicte Savoy.
Dr Nadine Siegert is a researcher, curator and publisher with a focus on modern and contemporary arts of the Global South. Currently she is the Deputy Director of the Iwalewahaus and member of the research project Revolution 3.0, both at the University of Bayreuth. Siegert received her doctoral degree from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies with her PhD (Re)mapping Luanda on nostalgic and utopian aesthetic strategies in contemporary art in Angola. With Katharina Fink, she manages iwalewabooks, a publishing house dedicated to art and discourse from the Global South.
In February 2015, Dutch-born Nanette Jacomijn Snoep took over management of the three Ethnological Museums in Saxony - GRASSI Museum of Ethnology Leipzig, Museum of Ethnology Dresden, Museum of Ethnology Herrnhut with over 300,000 objects from Africa, America, Oceania, Australia and Asia and a collection of more than 200,000 photographs and paintings, which constitutes the second largest collection of its kind in Germany. She also taught African Art History and curated international exhibitions, including exhibitions such as l‘Invention du Sauvage in Paris (Prix du Cristal / Best Exhibition of France 2011) and many more.
Selene Wendt is as an independent curator and writer and founder of The Global Art Project. Her most recent exhibitions include The Storytellers: Narratives in International Contemporary Art; Mind the Map and Jamaican Routes as well as The Art of Storytelling, which took place at Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; A Sheet of Paper Can Become a Knife for The Prince Claus Fund Gallery in Amsterdam, and The Sea is History, currently on view at the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.