THIKA ROAD MAD BOYS

We are happy to invite you to take a look at Sam Hopkins´ project Thika Road mad boys_Until death do us part_Wazungu wausi (Black White Men), on Nairobi´s cyclists, shot in collaboration with John Kamicha.

The growth and expansion of Nairobi, economically, infra-structurally and culturally, has over the past few years been a subject of significant academic and media attention. One expression, and perhaps consequence, of this growth is an emerging bicycle subculture. A group of cyclists, many of whom are also artists, are building a bike scene, with a distinct set of cultures, practices and languages. Although some of the signs and symbols of this subculture are perhaps familiar to an international audience, the way they are performed in Nairobi is radically different.

Cycling in Nairobi can be dangerous and involves dodging corrupt police, traffic and thieves, generally in that order. The cyclists themselves are maverick and some almost outlaws, but largely they are middle class. This seeming contradiction is vividly expressed in the bike scene. For example groups of cyclists go on weekend bike tours, a perhaps almost conservative, European tradition. But the way this is enacted in Kenya seems more hedonistic than conservative, a kind bicycle-binge of drugs, alcohol, meat, and sleeping rough at the end of the night.

Why do these young men chose to eschew the traditional middle class values of buying a car, a house and living a safe life? Why do they identify so strongly with a subculture developed around a bike? How does the bike identity relate to other identities, such as ethnicities and gender roles? The Bike Gang is a collectively made experimental film, involving one group of bikers as chroniclers and re-enacters of their everyday life, dreams and hallucinations.

QUEER VOLATILITY

We are happy to introduce you to another project of the exhibition, the cooperation of Ato Malinda and Sybille Bauriedl: queer volatility: the indecipherable achievement of a socially utopic state

We are especially interrested in knowledge production on queer identities, the translation of queerness by LGBTQI-NGOs in African countries and body performances of queer people in Nairobi and European cities. In our observation international NGOs and global (western) media have a huge influence on queer identity in Nairobi, on denying precolonial queerness in Africa and on universalizing LGBTQI-politics (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-intersex).

We want to examine the multiple translation practices of / between queer performativity, queer representations, queer politics and queer theory with a focus on Nairobi within its global cultural, postcolonial context. We started with a queer perspective on future Africa with relational interconnectivity and subjectivity, sameness and otherness in mind.

We think that queer people in Nairobi and African diaspora contribute to more divers ideas of possibilities of future by challenging daily practice of oppression and liberation of sexual and gender identities. We discuss queer futures in the sense of breaking down multiple binaries of sex and gender.

With our contribution to the exhibition of Future Africa we want to ask:

How are queer African identities related to diaspora and European queer identities?

What can we learn form these identities about possible futures and/or „Future Africa“?

References 

Ekine, Sokari & Hakima (eds.)(2013): AbbasQueer African Reader (anthology on queer identies and politics)

Mwachiro, Kevin (2014): Invisible. Stories from Kenya’s queer community. Nairobi.

NEST, 2014, Stories of our lives (five short film drama)

Muñoz, José Esteban (2009): Cruising Utopia. The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Butler, Judith on Performativity and sexuality

Massey, Doreen on power geometries and global sense of place

PHILIPP KHABO KOEPSELL

Philipp Khabo Koepsell is a Berlin-based author, dramaturge and an internationally acclaimed spoken word performer of German and South African descent. With a clear focus on empowerment and negotiations of race and identity he has been touring Europe and South Africa, giving joyful lessons on activism and performance. His approach proves to be successful across all age groups and borders. On stage he mixes savvy afropolitan poetry with Black German activist messages and theatrical bits creating a unique, gritty, and entertaining style of performance poetry. He writes and performs in German and English.
He is the publisher of a book series focused on Black German arts and literature production. His latest publications “The Afropean Contemporary” and “Erste Indaba Schwarzer Kulturschaffender in Deutschland” discuss afrufuturism, and agency in Germany’s  Black Arts Movement.

S.E.F.A.

We are more than happy to announce the performance S.E.F.A. by Nastio Mosquito for our exhibition opening on the 7th of November. Be prepared, that´s one you shouldn´t miss.

S.E.F.A.
Nástio Mosquito
2014
Live Performance
Courtesy Nástio Mosquito ©, Photo by Margaux Kolly ©

“Se Eu Fosse Angolano” (S.E.F.A.) is a conceptual audiovisual / live piece of work that, using contemporary society, draws a distinct tone when approaching, questioning and repositioning the usefulness of identity. All citizens part of “modern societies” on planet Earth, specially the ones living in communities that seek to reinvent themselves after decades of either inner individual conflict or civil blindness, are the target of this project. Not being a happy listen, it is full of hope and ambition for a better and greater future. A future that reaches beyond those nations to the people that make them.

On stage, the challenge of the project is, to bring to life the concept we call “The Deconstruction Of The Legitimacy Syndrome” as well as to have the ultimate standoff between identity and motivation.

Motivation, belief, faith and its tangibility, use and consequence are at the centre of the proposal. If we had a question it would be:

Can you really change a human without interacting, invading, changing what he believes?

At the end of the day it is just a show that through music, poetry, video projections and live performance will race towards the interaction we have with our own relationships, history, emotional ghosts, social celebrations and much more…”

MY OWN EXOTIC

Exhibition project by FABIO VANIN in cooperation with researcher MOSES SERUBIRI

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.

DIETER NEUBERT

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

ABDI OSMAN

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.

ATO MALINDA

Ato Malinda lives and works in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She has a Masters of Fine Art (MFA) from Transart Institute, New York and is a PhD candidate at Leiden University and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. She works in the mediums of performance, drawing, painting, installation and video, as well as has a growing interest in object-making. Her previous work has focused on Afrocentricity based in a postcolonial context. Within this context, Malinda has focused on the hybrid nature of African identity, contesting notions of authenticity. Through her research, Malinda has discovered numerous histories of intermingling of Africans through colonialism, but also trade, with other cultures. In addition, Malinda focuses on ontology of the female experience pertaining to Africa, examining gender and ideologies surrounding the history and current state of gender and sexuality in Africa. She has exhibited at Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) in Berlin (2011), Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (2014), the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (2015), Salon Urbain de Douala in Cameroon (2010) and the Karen Blixen Museum in Copenhagen (2010).

More

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013 GAMES, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin

2011 Incommensurable Identities, im Rahmen von IMAGINE – towards an ecoaesthetic, The Aarhus Art Building, Aarhus

2009 Dans Mon Brun, Doual’art, Douala

2009 Solo exhibition at Goethe Institute Nairobi: Looking at Art; Looking at Africa; Looking at Art, Prison Sex II.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2012 Untitled January 2012, Roots Contemporary, Brüssel

2011 the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin

2011 One Minutes Africa, at Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

2011 FOCUS 11, Contemporary Art Africa, Art 42 Basel

2011 Fertile, South London Gallery, CONTEMPORARY AFRICA ON SCREEN, London

2011 Kaddou Diggen, La Paroles aux Femmes, Women Speak Out, Galerie Le Manège, Dakar

2010 Salon Urbain de Douala, SUD2010: Douala Triennial, Douala

2010 II Trienal Luanda 2010. Luanda

2010 My World IMAGES, Contemporary Arts Festival 2010, Copenhagen, Denmark. Rebuilding, Remembering & Renewing, Karen Blixen Museum, Rungstedlund

SYOWIA KYAMBI

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