Oceans Apart is a multimedia presentation incorporating a two-part projected video and music from the new EP by Ghanaian-Canadian singer-songwriter Kae Sun, directed by Simon Rittmeier with Emeka Alams from Gold Coast Trading as the creative mind. The visual narrative examines notions of belonging and home through the personal and voyeuristic relationship of an asylum seeker and a young female student in a nondescript small town in Germany. Both film and EP explore the current social dilemma of displaced persons through the emotional, spiritual, and relational experience rather than the sociopolitical. For gallery presentations, Oceans Apart is presented as a split-screen projection (on two screens or two white walls). The screens portray the points of view of both protagonists. The point of view of each protagonist is accompanied by a song from the Oceans Apart EP. Videos and music are looped, and a listening station is set up, facilitating an exclusive listen to the full, unreleased EP. Music at the listening station is played via cassette tape. The video footage was captured on VHS and cell phone camera in Germany and the Ivory Coast. The total run time for the piece is approximately 10 minutes. Oceans Apart was conceived by long-time collaborators Kae Sun and Emeka Alams of Gold Coast Trading Company with the co-direction of filmmaker and visual artist Simon Rittmeier.
“Where are you?”.
The prevailing impulse in the experience of being alive is alienation, a sort of spiritual exile.
The desire for happiness is a desire for belonging, a return to eden if you will. Everything people have ever touched, every invention, every poem, song, every prayer ever uttered is haunted by this impulse. Of the two events that shape our existence, birth and death, the latter is the more mysterious, seemingly. The reality of death, the inevitability of it and the fact that it cannot be mediated, the fact that it escapes our capacity to reason with and through it heightens this alienation so that the desire for belonging extends past our immediate physical condition into other worlds we imagine through our creative, philosophical, political and religious endeavours. So the question of what you’ve done with your life becomes a question of what you’ve done with your exile. Oceans Apart is our way of examining this notion of exile using the very current social dilemma of displaced persons or those seeking a better situation, a better point of view, a better reference point for their lives and those of their loved ones.
We’re perhaps peeling back the layers a little bit and making this more about the spiritual and relational condition of not belonging and not so much the socio-political one, we hope that you could partner with us to achieve this goal or at best pose the question eloquently through this piece of ours.
Dieter Neubert holds the chair in development sociology at the University of Bayreuth. His research areas include sociology of Africa (including social structure), sociology of violent conflicts, social change, and development policy. His regional research focus is Africa, particularly East Africa. He has also conducted research in Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Thailand).
Selected current publications:
Dieter Neubert: Die Fallen der „Rumsfeld Utopie“. Das widersprüchliche Verhältnis zwischen Mittelschichten, Zivilgesellschaft und Demokratie. . Festschrift für Reinhart Kößler. In: Hauck, Gerhard; Lenz, Ilse, Wehr, Ingrid; Wienold, Hanns (Hg.): Entwicklung, Gewalt, Gedächtnis. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot 2015, 128-141
Antje Daniel und Dieter Neubert 2014: Middle classes and political instability in Kenya: Civil society organizations during the post-election violence of 2007/8. In: Dominique Darbon (Hg.), Les classes moyennes en Afrique. Enjeux politiques d’une catégorie incertaine. Paris : Karthala, 155-184
Dieter Neubert 2014: What is “middle class”? In search of an appropriate concept. In: Middle East – Topics & Arguments Vol. 2, 23-35
Dieter Neubert, Christine Scherer (eds.), 2014: Agency and changing world views in Africa. Berlin, Hamburg, Münster: Lit Verlag
Artur Bogner & Dieter Neubert 2013: Negotiated peace, denied justice? The case of West Nile (Northern Uganda). Africa Spectrum, 48 (3), 55-84
Antje Daniel & Dieter Neubert (eds.) 2012: Translating globalization, world society and modernity in everyday life. Theoretical reflections and empirical perspectives. Special issue. Sociologus 2012, issue 1
Andreas Neef & Dieter Neubert 2011: Stakeholder participation in agricultural research projects: a conceptual framework for reflection and decision-making. Agriculture and Human Values 28, 179-194
Emeka Alams was born in Nigeria and his name has a strong meaning: God has done something wonderful
He has spent his life between western Africa, Europe and the States. He feels like a semi-homeless person, and can’t help but feel nostalgic about Africa from New York, city where he currently lives and works. The strong feeling of belonging to the continent fills his spirit and the one of Gold Coast Trading, the brand he has created.
Emeka sets a date in the story of his journey Live from the coast for when it all began, it’s 1444, the same year in which European colonists began the deportation of the first Africans. The first breaking point with a cultural world filled with suggestion that the African continent is trying hard to defend today and that those that have grown in the States or in Europe are loosing.
Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian multidisplinary artist whose work focuses on questions of black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities. Osman’s video and photography work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions. He holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, and B.A. in African Studies from the University of Toronto. Previous work has been supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. His photographs are also in private collections and the Art Bank of the Canada Council for the Arts. Some of his work was in the year-long group show DiaporaArt: Strategy and Seduction by Canadian Artists from Culturally Diverse Communities at Rideau Hall. Abdi was a 2010 artist-in-resident at the McColl Centre for Visual Arts in Charlotte North Carolina. Most recently in 2012, he was a fellow at The Interdisciplinary Center for Culture and Creativity (ICCC) at the University of Saskatchewan.
Exhibitions and Festivals (Selection)
Miriam Syowia Kyambi (b.1979) is a multi-media artist of Kenyan and German heritage based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work combines performance with impermanent and permanent mediums including clay, sisal, paint and photography. Much of her work dissects and brings to question perception and memory. She examines how the contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed history, past and present violence, colonialism, family and sexuality.
Often the result is an orchestration that engages the viewer in a dynamic process that leaves behind a powerful visual impression.
Syowia graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA (2002) where she resided for five years before returning to Kenya in 2003.
She has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and grants including 2nd place in the UNESCO Award for the Promotion of the Arts; the Art in Global Health Grant from the Welcome Trust Fund in United Kingdom; a grant from Mexico’s External Ministry of Affairs; and commissions by the Kenya Institute of Administration, the National Museums of Kenya and the Art 4 Action Foundation in Kenya. Her work has been shown in Belgium, Finland, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States of America.
by Nabila Alibhai