Ulf Vierke is the director of Iwalewahaus, museum for contemporary African arts and the African Studies Center of the University of Bayreuth. Furthermore is the head of DEVA, the digial research archive of the African Studies in Bayreuth. Additionally he acts as Principal Investigator at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS). Together with Ute Fendler and Nadine Siegert he is a leading researcher at “Revolution 3.0”, one of the subprojects of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies. In his curatorial practice he focuses on photography and contemporary media arts, mostly in the Eastern African and lusophone context.
The title of the project is a sort of paradox: it highlights the distance between the process of appropriation of an external element or feature, becoming in such way part of someone´s identity (“My Own”) and the term “Exotic”, which Greek origin refers to the outside (exo), the foreign (exotikos).
That oxymoron constitutes the base of the work, that is composed of two artworks: an (unfinished) handmade booklet realised in 2014 during the first two weeks residence in Bayreuth and an artificial flower installation as result of the second residence in 2015. Both outputs invite to reflect on the clashes, connections, merges and blurs between waht is “originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country”, something “out of the ordinary”, often “attractive or striking because colourful” and the efforts of constructing a purified, integral and original identity.
In the first case, the booklet highlights the idealised or distorted representation of the Angolan landscape and nature, as it was seen by the colonizers. It condenses an iconographic research based on the available books on Angola existing in the central library of Bayreuth, ranging from 1875 to 1975, where the artist focused on the understanding of different images displaying various natural forms.
In the second case, the artificial flower installation follows the three days photographic survey of different kind of flowers – natural or artificial – visible in the public spaces of Bayreuth city centre. Starting from the specific meaning of Exotics – “an exotic plant or animal” – the installation invites to reflect on the incorporation of allochthonous, exotic species into semiprivate and institutional public spaces of Bayreuth, some of which express the ultimate tradition and identity of the city.
Flowers are a central element of beautification of public, representative and important private space. They contribute to strengthen the image of a well kept, controlled, ordered and properly decorated city. But is there a logic and a symbolic meaning behinf the choice of certain species for those spaces? Do the compositions, design and associations of different flowers efer to any tradition? Should those flowers represent German identity along with the institutional flags and statues of local heros?
Fabio Vanin and Moses Serubiri will tackle those and other questions in their project “MY OWN EXOTIC”, putting in question the (shallow) understanding and public consciousness about the use and consumption of flowers, reflecting on the relation between their display and the public image of Bayreuth. Reproductions of autoctonous and allochthonous species will be positioned in opposite group rows, one facing the other, representing the disequilibrium/ unbalance between the two groups. Also, wireframes will reproduce the most recurrent geometrical that can be found in Bayreuth and 3D printed reproductions of flowers on representative monuments and buildings will be displayed next to each other.
Check out Kae Suns video
Being one of the participating artists, he will show his new video to the song LONGWALK in the upcoming exhibition! You can find a little preview here with Kae on Okayafrica
The collaboration took place in Bayreuth along with another artist presenting in the exhibition, designer Emeka Alams from Gold Coast Trading Company. For a little deeper inside, have a look at his interview with Art Nouveau Magazine Emeka on an-mag
Time flies and you better be ready for it!
Richard Wagner’s (1813-1883) operas and conceptual writings remain some of the most influential works of the last two centuries. With their complexity, abstract harmonies and deeply elaborate use of leitmotifs, Wagner set the tone for how we think about composition and multiple interpretations of set design, architecture, and the complete use of music to create a virtual tableau for 21st century digital media. It’s been argued that he is essentially the first multimedia composer.
Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, the innovative research structure at the University of Bayreuth, have invited Paul D. Miller to explore some of the deep structural relationships between Wagner’s concepts and the tensions between his work as a composer and theoretician and the long standing controversy surrounding his career.
From 2015-2016, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is Composer in Residence at Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies in the heart of Bayreuth where Wagner oversaw his crowning achievement – the legendary Festspiel Haus. The Residency is comprised of an exhibition, concert series. It will be part of the joint exhibition of Academy researchers and artists responding to the overarching theme “Future Africa – Visions in Time” which opens on November 7th, 2015, at Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth. Paul D. Miller’s project on the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk is devoted to explores the philosophical dimensions of Wagner’s work in relation to 21st Century aesthetics and compositional strategies. The Residency will culminate in an album that explores many of Wagner’s most well known works.
I first encountered Wagner not just as a composer but as a friend of one of my favorite philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche. The collected Aphorisms of Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and one of my favorite adages from it “For, as a rule, artists are no better than the rest of the world, they are even worse – they misunderstand love. Even Wagner misunderstood it…” are a big inspiration for my work. I did one of my degrees in Philosophy and focused on Ludwig Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Hegel, and the rise of humanism. The intriguing thing about Wagner is that his work was never meant to be “just music” – neither is mine. I started my Residency in Bayeuth by physically walking through the town and environs for many miles. I wanted to put myself in the scenario of Wagner’s architectural idea-form, the Festspiel Haus to explore the resonance between the composer as architect and philosopher. There’s also the dynamic engagement with some of my soundtrack work: Wagner’s music was used to sublimely powerful effect in DW Griffith’s deeply controversial film “Birth of a Nation.” I remixed the film and soundtrack with Kronos Quartet in 2016. The other aspects of Wagner – The Tristan Chord (which many musicologist a trace to the rise of Modernist post Harmonic tone sequences, etc), and Wagner’s relationship to cinema inform the project and Residency: Apocalype Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), Amiri Baraka’s famous “Dutchman” (1964) on over to the Richard Burton 1983 biographic “Wagner,” to Stephen Fry’s “Wagner and Me” (2012), James Franco’s rendition of “Tristan and Isolde” (2006, Tony Scott, Director) and more currently, the rise of multimedia as the dominant global discourse of our time – all of these point to Wagner as more important than ever. From his relationship to modern cinema (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars etc) one can see his traces on almost every major aspect of Western culture – up to and including the main theme of many, many weddings: The “Bridal Chorus” (“Treulich geführt” in German), from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, is a march played for the bride’s entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world. Then there’s the whole issue of his concepts of Gesamkunstwerk and Zukunftmusik that anticipated our media discourse by a full century. While Wagner won critical acclaim for what he achieved in his theater works, his nuanced and passionately written, problematic philosophical works are less well known. I’ll balance music with art and philosophy in this Residency, and I hope you can join me for the journey.
I’ll be exploring a digital media response to his work by looking some of the more complex issues informing his work.
relation to 21st Century aesthetics and compositional strategies. The Residency will culminate in an album that explores many of Wagner’s most well known works.
We are happy to announce this year’s City Writer in Bayreuth: Moses Serubiri. In May and June, Moses Serubiri will write about Bayreuth, about life in Bayreuth – and bring new perspectives, new stories, unheard fictions, necessary comments. We are looking forward!
Moses Serubiri is an independent art writer, researcher, and curator. His interests lie in coloniality, language, and politics of urban space. He is published in magazines such as Chimurenga (South Africa), Kulturaustausch (Germany), and C& – Contemporary And (Germany). He holds a Higher Diploma in Software Engineering (2013), and graduated from the 5th CCA Lagos International Art School in Dakar, Senegal. His research and curatorial projects include ‘Life mu City’ (2014), a research project on urban language, currently in it’s 3rd volume, at the Goethe Zentrum Kampala; the biennial contemporary art festival, KLA ART – UNMAPPED (2014) looking at sociological studies on urban mapping and social classification in Ugandan cities; as a research intern for C& – Contemporary And, he explored African contemporary art on the international art scene. He is the second international city writer in Bayreuth, after Dr Tom Odhiambo’s stay in 2014. More
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