FAINT TESTIMONIES

What are the interrelations between Africa and Europe in World War I? How is Bayreuth involved, which history is told and how many different versions of history exist and how do they influence the future(s)? Ultimately, the project Remembering the Future through World War I poses existential questions about power structures, memory and alternative histories. Download the booklet here.

Booklet Faint Testimonies

UNTITLED

James Muriuki’s installation work critically investigates a potential “middle class” in Nairobi.Following conversations between himself and several social scientists from the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, he developed a differentiated perspective on the term “middle class” and how it is being used to categorize and imagine a group of people and what this categorisation might lead to.

Questions about the people that might be considered belonging to a “middle class” emerged. What constitutes this grouping? What are their aspirations? What do they surround themselves with? And how is this group related to and perceived by people who are not (yet) considered as “middle class”?
Suggesting that neither science nor photography can explicate these complexities within a single narrative, Muriuki represents a “middle class’ home” through several hundred images.Together with these image the artist presents a video and sound piece related to the actual builders of “middle class” homes. Overlaying the sounds of labor are audio excerpts of the scientist’s thoughts on their research methodology which brings the academic production of societal knowledge to the fore.

RECORDS OF AFRICAN BLACK QUEER (TIMES)

The Invisible Color of (V)Si(o)lence – Analogue Differences and Future Presences ‘n the Image is the third line of this project’s title. The collages are problematizing different strings of queerness that overlap, intersect and assemblage.  The photos narrate stories that make an other normality sound. They are about the normality of queerness and blackness. They are about ‘being-Muslim’ as culturalized ‘race’ and about ‘being not-Muslim’ and about African (Diasporic) gazes. The images are about all the things in-between where meaning always lingers and then vanishes away into its other sublime physical states in specific times, mo(ve)ments and about what all that means: a range of entirely different possibilities, living next to each other, raising out from each other. The photographs invite us to look at doors in the background. Doors which can be understood as spaces that one has left behind or wants to enter. Doors that can be regarded as visas and borderlines into (one)other(s) wor(l)ds, doors that one has left behind or about to open or long ago has been excluded from entering. And yet, they seem to suggest that there is an other world over there that cannot be touched by our gazes, by the world, from this site of the image. The Photo-graphs silently also depict ‘religion’ as item, fetish and geopoliticized ‘culture’ and the possibilities of understanding. They are about spaces, gazes, about capabilities and matterings that linger in the future that we cannot know.

The photos graph from this future, gazing here at us, reminding us of what here is – a whole range of miss-possibilites that cry out for a materialized ethical turn, in the face of borders, wrongs and violence to which we are compliant, that we must reframe in order to get there. In a way these photos are archives of heterotopias of human imagination and how it (may) materialize(s) – hopefully.

Mariam Popal

WARNING! NOT FIXED

We are proud to give you a little insight on the project of Ulf Vierke and Delio Jasse, Warning! Not Fixed

Warning! Not Fixed is a story about the act of looking and the illusion of images. It highlights the ephemeral that is also characteristic for this end of photography as process. There is one central question: How does the process of remembrance work? Images, namely strong images or artworks in our memory are different from what we usually call knowledge. Images ‘adhere’, they stick to our memory usually without being on hand immediately. But do they really become disposable in the sense of applicable knowledge later on? The hypothesis underlying our experimental installation rather assumes that the initial image stays intact without being remembered as such; in the process of remembering the image we create new images instead of bringing back the initial one. Thus like retouches we put layer over layer of new-remembered images on top of the initial one. A consequence of the “remembering” is not a destruction but distancing of the original image. In our installation every individual act of looking at the image pushes one-step away from the initial image. The individual process of remembering described above is turned into a collective process. Warning! Not Fixed is as much about the individual’s process of remembering an image, as it is about the collective venture “archive”. The archive unfolds as a process not that much about the past but about futures, possible future remembrance.

ULF VIERKE

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.

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.