LET IT RAIN

Up on a neck of a sacred hill known as Njelele is a shrine comprising a level open ground, more or less the size of a basketball pitch, and, by its side, a cave with two chambers . With only two small paths approaching the shrine from opposite directions, the space around is covered by trees and large rocks, making it into an ideal natural sanctuary. It is here at the shrine that on special days during the year, usually in the darkness of night, the people that call to Mwali for rain and fertility gather for that purpose. Having slaughtered an offering bull, they roast the meat and eat it unsalted. Opaque home-brewed beer is shared and some of it is poured
to the ancestors on a rock. The drinking and eating is followed by the beating of drums, singing and dancing, activities that continue to the early hours of the morning.

Tumi Mogorosi’s installation presents an aesthetic response to research material provided by Kupakwashe Mtata. Zooming into rain-making celebrations at the Njelele Shrine in Matobo, Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, his jazz composition enters into a conversation with the rough and shaky visual notes recorded during research trips. Experienced as patterns of images and sound they evoke an atmosphere of anticipation but also of presence, of the “future” being already there. Different spiritual registers are in action such as Metatron, a mythical angel of mediation, and Njelele-based rituals of rain-making which are calling a future into being. The rain asked for here is not necessarily water drops from a cloudy sky but invokes other showers of blessings, too.

 

MICHAEL HAUHS

Michael Hauhs received his PhD in Forest Science from the University of Göttingen. He workes as researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research and the University of Göttingen before he became the Chair of Ecological Modelling at the University of Bayreuth. His main research interests are Forest growth models, Catchment models, hydrological modelling as well as information and complexity of environmental time series and categorial theory in ecology. At the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African studies he is a project leader at the subproject Visions of Nature: Concepts of Appropriating and Conserving Nature in Africa.

Some of his publications include:

Selle, B; Lange, H; Lischeid, G; Hauhs, M: Transit times of water under steady stormflow conditions in the Gårdsjön G1 catchment, Hydrological Processes, in press 9/2015

Hauhs, M; Trancón y Widemann, B: Application of algebra and coalgebra in scientific modelling, Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science, 264, 105-123

Hauhs, M; Graefe, O: Sustainable use of water from natural and social science perspective, Geography Compass, 3, 1-20 (2009)

Hauhs, M: Production versus conservation in New Zealand and German beech forest management – A modeller’s perspective, New Zealand Journal of Foresty, 50(4), 31-41 (2006)

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.

KUPAKWASHE MTATA

Kupakwashe Mtata is a doctoral researcher in Religious Studies working within the “Visions of Nature” sub-project under the auspices of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies. His research focuses on religion and nature by exploring on-going encounters between European colonial and African autochthonous ontological designs of human-environment relations in contemporary Africa, with Matobo National Park of Zimbabwe and its environs as a case study.

TUMI MOGOROSI

Aged 28, SAMA award nominee, Tumi Mogorosi is increasingly building a reputation in the South African jazz scene among the new crop of young jazz musicians. Besides his intermittent formal studies at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) which he completed in 2012, the young drummer has refined his brush strokes alongside prominent South African jazz musicians who count – among trumpeter Feya Faku, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli as well as Andile Yenana.

Tumi Mogorosi was also part of the Gauteng Jazz Orchestra which opened the stage for world- renowned American Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis during his 2011 premier of the Joy of Jazz. More remarkable is Tumi’s fresh and bold offering as a composer and leader on his debut CD, Project Elo, which was re-released in London by Jazzman Records 31 June 2014. Project Elo has also toured France in Dec 2014 and performed at the Trans Musicales Festival in Renne.

Within the project of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies Mogorosi works together with Kupakwashe Mtata.

RUI ASSUBUJI

Both a photographer and researcher on visual histories of Mozambique, Rui Assubuji is currently working in European archives. His academic base is the University of the Western Cape, Bellville/South Africa.

Apart from doing many photographic exhibition and international projects; Assubuji most recently edited the Kronos edition on Mozambique: Nationalism and Historiography (with Paolo Israel and Drew Thompson). You can find the TOC here.

Within the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, Rui Assubuji is involved in the research of sub-project 1, “Narratives of Future in History“.

ACHIM VON OPPEN

Prof. Dr. Achim von Oppen is professor of History with special emphasis on the History of Africa at the University of Bayreuth. Geographically focusing on Eastern and Central Africa, his research interests include social, cultural and religious history in rural and urban contexts, history of space and history of knowledge. He is first director of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies as well as project leader of sub-project 1, “Narratives of Future in History“.

Among his publications are:

  1. (ed., with Silke Strickrodt): Religious biographies in Southern Africa. Thematic cluster in Journal of Southern African Studies, 2012
  1. (ed., with Ulrike Freitag): Translocality. The study of global processes from a southern perspective. (Studies in Global Social History, 4) Leiden: Brill
  1. (ed., with Beatrix Heintze), Angola on the Move / Angola em Movimento. Transport, Communications and History / Vias de Transporte, Communicação e História. Frankfurt/Main: Lembeck
  1. The painting and the pen. Approaches to Heinrich Barth and his African heritage” In: Mamadou Diawara, Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias und Gerd Spittler (eds.), Heinrich Barth et l’Afrique. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, pp. 105-132
  1. A place in the world. Markers of the local along the Upper Zambezi. In: Peter Probst and Gerd Spittler (eds.) Between Resistance and Expansion. Explorations of Local Vitality in Africa (Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung, 18), Münster: LIT Verlag, pp. 175-192
  1. The Village as Territory. Enclosing Locality in Northwest Zambia, 1950s to 1990s. In: Journal of African History 47 (2006), 1, pp. 57-75
  1. (with Ulrike Freitag) Translokalität als ein Zugang zur Geschichte globaler Verflechtungen. In: Matthias Middell and Rüdiger Hohls (eds.), Fachforum
  1. Terms of Trade and Terms of Trust. The history amd contexts of pre-colonial market production on the Upper Zambezi and Kasai (ca. 1790-1910). (Studien zur Afrikanischen Geschichte, Bd.6). Münster: LIT-Verlag

FABIO VANIN

Fabio Vanin is an architect and urban designer, holding a PhD in Urbanism from University Iuav of Venice, completed in 2008 with the thesis “Maputo Open City – Investigations on an African Capital City”. He worked as project leader for several strategic plans in Europe (Antwerp, Gent, Gorzow, Poznan) and Africa (Nairobi), and as research assistant at TU Eindhoven and at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. In 2009 he co-founded LATITUDE – Platform for Urban Research and Design, where he is currently involved in an international comparative research on water based urbanism, “Floating Urbanism”. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Landscape Urbanism at the Vrjie Univrsiteit Brussel.

Bibliography:

F. Vanin et al., “Prototypes Beautopia” in P. Pellegrini, P. Viganò (eds.), Comment vivre ensemble: prototypes of hidrorhithmical conglomerates and shared spaces, Officina Editori, Rome 2006. F. Vanin, “Multiculturalism in Maputo: from society to physical spaces”, in Planning for the risk society. Dealing with uncertainty, challenging the future, XXI AESOP (Association of European School of Planning) International Conference, Naples 2007. P. Guedes, Vitruvius Mozambicanus, ed. by F. Vanin, DODO, Venice 2011

KILUANJI KIA HENDA

Kiluanji Kia Henda is an autodidact which a profound springboard into this realm comes from growing up in a household of photography enthusiasts.His conceptual edge was sharpened by immersing himself into music, avant-garde theater and collaborating with a collective of artists in Luanda. Kia Henda has participated in several residencies programs and in the following selected exhibitions: Triennial of Luanda, 2007; Check List Luanda Pop, African Pavilion, Biennale of Venice, 2007; Farewell to Post-Colonialism, Trien- nial of Guangzhou, 2008; There is always a cup of sea to sail in, 29th São Paulo Biennial, 2010; Tomorrow Was Already Here, Tamayo Museum, Mexico City, 2012; Les Prairies – Les Ateliers de Rennes, 2012; Mondays Begins On Saturday, First Bergen Triennial, 2013; The Shadows Took Form, The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York, 2013; The Divine Comedy, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2014; Surround Audience, New Museum Triennial, New York, 2015. In 2012 he won the National Award for Culture and the Arts from the Angolan Ministry of Culture.

VISIONS OF NATURE

Concepts of Appropriating and Conserving Nature in Africa

The notion of Time is used at the Bayreuth Academy as the central concept that cuts across the disciplines involved. This is a novel and challenging approach, in particular when dealing with the traditional objects of natural sciences.

In the sciences of nature space has been traditionally in the role which is taken by time in the Bayreuth Academy approach: Nature and culture have been widely used as central categories for organizing research on Africa. We are, however, skeptical about the appropriateness of this distinction. The nature-culture distinction as criticized by (Descola, 2005) is traditionally used as a spatial delineation: culture on one side, nature on the other. Hence management issues predominantly deal with mutual dependencies in space. In order to preserve nature, for example, a national park is separated from the realm of human culture. Here, we are concerned with temporal relationships between humans and their (natural) environments. Nature is conceptualized as an interface at which some events can be actively repeated (e.g. as sustainable utilization), or they appear as series of unique historical events. We study how different stakeholders in fields like national parks or climate change conceptualize their respective notions of ‘nature’ as historical narratives relative to their own competences of participating in this history. Methodologically, we look at the roles of models in the various case studies and disciplines.

Description

In Western thinking, particularly in natural science, human-environmental relationships are conceptualized as natural objects related in space. This approach has been termed ‘science of seeing’ which is most rigorously exemplified by physics (Pearl, 2000). Within the natural sciences, environmental studies are perceived as applied sciences only.

Recently, humans have become experts how to perceive themselves in space. Starting from the Renaissance invention of spatial perspective, to the routine use of satellite images in Google earth, many have learned today how to cope with distortions of spatial perception; models of spatial perspective have become entirely implicit. At the beginning of the era of modern sciences, the question of where human observers and the earth were located in the universe was a hotly debated issue. Today, we know how to read (and make) pictures of any size of objects, even of the whole of Africa or the globe, and that at arbitrary spatial distances.

The second way of perceiving the world from a modeling perspective has been termed ‘art of doing (Pearl, 2000). It corresponds with notions of dwelling in anthropology (Ingold, 2011). In the project, we use ecosystem management traditions such as nomadism, pastoralism, or agriculture as examples. The ‘art of doing’-approach is hardly formalized. We want to test, whether the difference between the ‘science of seeing’ and the ‘art of doing’-approaches has historical rather than logical or factual reasons. Do temporal perceptions (of history and especially future) need similar corrections for their (temporal) distortions like those which are routine for spatial perceptions?

Today, many see themselves in a special role with respect to environmental history. Since the campaigns of Prof. B. Grzimek for the Serengeti, some Europeans feel responsible to preserve African ecosystems. The current epoch has even been renamed as Anthropocene, because humans today inevitably shape their local and global environment (Crutzen, 2002). It is evident, that the perception of the human role in environmental history depends heavily on models: of climate change or of the autonomous dynamics of ecosystems. The project will inspect several instances of such models, confronting those used by stakeholders in Africa (categorized by the project as appropriation) with occidental perceptions (categorized as conservation). We are particularly interested to find out how different models and their encounters distort the respective perceptions of time. We conjecture that all stakeholders of nature are in need of corresponding routines to cope with potentially temporal distortions, i.e. they need to know how to read historical or future events, and that at arbitrary temporal distances.

As a starting point of identifying and classifying implicit models of the history and future of ‘nature’ we use a classification of “ethno-cosmologies” from (Descola, 2005). Case studies will be firstly national parks in Africa, where we assume divergent models to clash; secondly, the appropriation of the climate change discourse in Africa, where we assume to find divergent underlying models. These investigations are cooperating with the DFG project “economy of sacred space” (U. Berner).

PICTURE: movie still from PUMZI, Wanuri Kahiu, 2009