ALZIRE

Kitso Lynn Lelliott’s work in the Neues Schloss resembles an artistic ghost-story. By means of images and sounds, the artist evokes the presence of Alzire, a young woman who worked and lived at the court of Wilhelmine of Bayreuth. There are few traces of the young woman. Not even her real name is recorded. “Alzire” is the name given to her by Margravine Wilhelmine, based on the tragedy by the same name, “Alzire, ou les Américains”. It was written by French philosopher Voltaire, who the Margravine adored. All we know of Alzire, the human being, is based on a burial script by Hofprediger Schmidt. Not even 25 years of age, she died in Bayreuth on May 22nd, 1751.

She had come a long way. As her country of birth, Surinam in South America is mentioned. At the time under Dutch colonialism Surinam was a place of slavery with many of its enslaved people being of West African ancestry. It had terrible conditions for people working on the sugar plantations and was a place of rebellion with people refusing the bondage they were placed under. The installation in the castle enacts, through this recalling of the disremembered Alzire, its own rebellion against the desolation of erasure. Her ghostly presence is recalled to fill a space and the narrative of a place she was otherwise forgotten from.

Alzire‘s story leaves many questions: What brought a woman from the Americas to the court of Wilhelmine of Bayreuth? What were the conditions of her journey? Did she act as a servant in Bayreuth, performing not only the duties of a servant but also being perceived through to the popular ‘exoticism’ of the time, when it was fashionable to have people from Africa and the Americas work at the European courts? Was she solely subject to being gazed upon? How did she look back? And did the eyes of the two women, Wilhelmine and Alzire, meet: seeing as both their migrations to Bayreuth were, most likely, not willful ones?

CONSTANTIN KATSAKIORIS

Constantin Katsakioris (PhD, EHESS Paris) is historian of contemporary international history, working on the relations between the communist countries and the Third World. He is currently completing a book, entitled “Soviet lessons. The Education of African and Arab Students in the URSS during the Cold War”. He has published papers in the Cahiers du Monde Russe, the Journal of Modern European History, the Ezhegodnik sotsialnoi istorii, other reviews and collectives volumes.

RUTH SACKS

Ruth Sacks is a South African visual artist who lives and works in Johannesburg. Her 3rd artist book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas, was launched in 2013. Group exhibitions include: The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 at ZKM |Centre for Art and Media (Germany, 2011), Performa 09, facilitated by the Museum for African Art New York (USA, 2009) and Luanda_Pop Checklist at the 52nd Venice Biennale (Italy, 2007). In 2013 and 2014, she was one of the organizers of Regions A-G, a program of artist interventions at the Johannesburg City Library. Recent solo shows have been: Open Endings at TTTT  in Ghent (Belgium, 2015), 2,000 Meters Above the Sea at the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg (SA, 2012) and Double-sided Accumulated at Extraspazio in Rome (Italy, 2010).

Sacks was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1977. She is currently based at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), where she is a doctoral fellow. Together with Simon Gush, she facilitates the collaborative arts platform, the Parking Gallery, which was hosted by the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) in 2012 and 2013. She is a laureate of the Higher Institute for Fine Art (HISK) in Ghent, Belgium.

Artist Statement

I tend to look at historical moments in architecture and the applied arts, particularly from the late 19th century, as a way of commenting on contemporary environments. I work with fictional narratives a lot; writing my own texts but also adapting existing material and familiar motifs to encourage new interpretations of dominant themes. I am interested in using installations and book works as a way of testing various design systems while at the same time developing new ones.

LUIS CARLOS PATRAQUIM

Luís Carlos Patraquim (Maputo, March 26, 1953) is a poet, playwright and journalist from Mozambique.

He moved to Sweden as a refugee in 1973. In 1975, he moved back to Mozambique, where he worked for A Tribuna magazine, the Agência de Informação de Moçambique (AIM), the Instituto Nacional de Cinema de Moçambique (INC) and Tempo magazine.

He has lived in Portugal since 1986.

Some of his works include:

Mariscando luas. Lisboa, Vega, 1992

Com Chichorro (ilustrações) e Ana Mafalda Leite

Lidemburgo blues. Lisboa, Editorial Caminho, 1997

O osso côncavo e outros poemas (1980–2004). Lisboa, Editorial Caminho, 2005

Antologia de poemas dos livros anteriores e poemas novos

Com um texto de Ana Mafalda Leite: O que sou de sobrepostas vozes

Pneuma Lisboa, Editorial Caminho, 2009

A Canção de Zefanías Sforza (romance) Porto, Porto Editora, 2010

Antologia Poética. Belo Horizonte, Editora UFMG, 2011. Coleção Poetas de Moçambique

PICTURE: https://sunshinesocialistcinema.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-birth-of-cinema-in-mozambique/

CONCEPTS OF FUTURE IN MEDIASPACES OF AFRICA AND ITS DIASPORAS

Our sub-project is dedicated to fictional conceptualisations of the future in the intersection and overlapping of internet, imagination and Africa and its diasporas.

Description

The sub-project “Concepts of Future in Mediaspaces of Africa and its Diasporas” is dedicated to fictional conceptualizations of ‘Future’ in the intersecting trans-spaces of Internet, Fiction, and Africa/n Diasporas. In doing so, literary studies are mobilized as transcultural and transmedial “life science” (Ottmar Ette).

Terms

Diasporas constitute societal spaces that perform entangled (hi)stories and generate transcultural futures, promising creative solutions for global challenges. Fiction does not exist in a vacuum; rather, given constellations of knowledge, power and visions are negotiated polyphonously—affirmed, and/or subverted. Diasporas transgress borders between languages and nations just as much as fiction transgresses conventional boundaries of genres and media. The Internet has become a haven and home for these kinds of intersections and interactions of both Africa and its diasporas as well as media and genres. Weblogs, informational as well as social fora (to mention just the most obvious), are mediaspaces that are informed by given geopolitical power constellations and yet offer scopes of intellectual and aesthetic mobility that transgress them. Here, a poetics arises that (re)invents itself for the future, coping with history and negotiating the present.

Methodology and Theory

Literary Studies facing transmedial and transcultural fiction has to reinvent itself and resituate its structures, concepts and agendas. The various projects will rely on an expertise in African and African-diasporic Literatures, English and Anglophone Literatures, as well as German and Romance Literatures. Yet, conventional pigeonholes such as national literatures and one-language-one-nation-only frames of literary studies are likewise transgressed. As a result, the project performs Transcultural Literary Studies, relying on postcolonial theory and critical whiteness studies, Diaspora studies, gender and sexuality studies, and queer studies.

Questions

1. How are visions of ‘Future’ mediated via the Internet?

2. Which visions and projections of ,Future’—with particular reference to Africa/n diasporas, Europe, and the USA—are negotiated in fiction, above all in Afrofuturism, Africanist Science Fiction and African-diasporic Net-Art?

3. How have Afrofuturism, Africanist SF and African-diasporic Net-Art intervened and generated visions of histories that remember into futures? (How) do they influence conceptualizations of the future and intervene in contemporary processes? What are the implications of such interventions?

4. What are the impacts of visions of ‘Future’ on global archives of knowledge, on transcultural dialogicity, and on local and translocal conceptions of ‘Future’ in Europe, Africa and the USA?

5. (How) Does the Internet influence other media? Does it open specific potentials for future-oriented, transcultural and transmedial forms of expression, as well as, e.g., new economic and ethical formats of ‘intellectual property’? How do various genres interact, how are their stakeholders and/or agencies cross-linked on the local and/or transregional levels, and how do their literary-aesthetical visions of ‘Future’ influence political activism in ‘real’ (local) settings, especially in urban agglomerations—understood as contact spaces between Africa-/Europe/Northern America/Asia, and Africa/Diaspora(s)—, respectively?

6. Different Web formats (blogs, artists’ websites, publications in social fora, etc.) will be compared in order to address the following questions: To what extent do new aesthetic genres, especially those of particular relevance for the development and/or presentation of visions of ‘Future’ in/for Africa, emerge from and through the Internet? In a comparative perspective, Internet literature of the African Diaspora(s) can be analyzed in relation to other, ‘classical’ literary media (publishers, booksellers, literary cafés, academia, etc.), and the relevance of the Internet for different regional spaces shall be considered. Insomuch as Web-based aesthetic production presents itself as polyphonic genre-crossing, prose and Spoken Word Performances will be compared with genres such as fine (visual) arts, photography, music, and theatre/film production in/of African Diaspora(s).

7. (How) Can research on new literary representations of future (e.g. ‘Afrofuturism’, SF, African-diasporic Net-Art) determine coordinates for the future of a ‘Literary Study in Motion’ (Ottmar Ette), contribute to new paradigms and mappings, and thereby result in the advancement of both literature and literary studies?