This project by Kiluanji Kia Henda is a poetic journey into a moment in time and space, both utopian and dystopian: 1975 in Luanda, Angola’s capital. After a liberation war and the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, it is the year before Angola finally became independent from its colonizer. The film describes an choking condition from the perspective of a Portuguese individual who is about to leave the country where he lived his whole live and who contrary to the independent Angolans who lived a utopian moment, saw no future. But he also doesn’t know where to go. Inspired by the first chapter of the book of the Polish journalist and writer Rychard Kapuscinsky, “Another Day of Life – Angola 1975”, this film also transports the images of modernist architecture of Luanda into the past. At the start of the projection the narrator wakes up from a nightmare, only to see that reality is just as hopeless as his dream world. It is his last day in the city and he is hesitant to leave.
Ute Fendler holds the chair of romance cultural and comparative studies at the University of Bayreuth. Francophone, Hispanophone, Lusophone literatures and film/TV (Africa, Caribbean, Canada, South America). Her main research interests are: intermedial and intercultural phenomenon, migration, iconographies, popular culture, performance.
Director of the Institute of African Studies (2011-2015), Deputy Director of Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African studies (since April 2015).
Some recent publications include:
U. Fendler et al.: Transformations. Changements et renouveaux dans la littérature et la cinéma au Maghreb depuis 1990. München: AVM, 2015.
U. Fendler/ Liliana Feierstein: Enfances? Représentations de l´enfance en Afrique et en Amérique Latine. München: AVM, 2013.
DVD-Edition: together with INAC (Instituto Nacional de Audiovisual e Cinema) and ICMA (Instituto Cultural Mocambicano-Aleaao): Imagems do mundo. DVD-Edition 2012 and 2013. Material from the Archives of INAC.
- “The missing people – the return of the „people“? Fictocritical positions in the art scene in Maputo”. In: OS INTELECTUAIS AFRICANOS FACE AOS DESAFIOS DO SEC. XXI, Actas da segunda conferência 2012, 2014, 317-330
- “Cinema in Mozambique: New tendencies in a complex mediascape.“ In: Critical Interventions, 2014, 18pp (online)
- “Narrating the Indian Ocean: challenging the circuits of migrating notions.” In: Michael Mann/Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger (eds): Beyond the Line. Cultural Narrations of the Southern oceans. Berlin: Neofelis, 2014, 179-198
- “Nouvelles icônes: enfants-soldats et jeunes guerriers.“ In: Fendler/Feierstein (eds.): Enfances? Représentations de l’enfance en Afrique et en Amérique Latine. München : 2013, 275-287
- “La question de l’universel ou Traveling Tales. L’exemple de Maryse Condé.“ In: Mourad Ali-Khodja/Jean-Francois Thibault: Des apories de l’universalisme aux promesses de l’universel : chantiers pour une réflexion. Québec: Presses Universitaires, “Mercure du Nord”, 2013, 73-85.
Zohra Opoku (DE/GH) is an Accra-based versatile artist whose work employs media including installations, photography and video to explore the sophistication of textile cultures in disparate spaces targeting fashion’s political and psychological role and socio-cultural dynamics in relation to African history and individualistic or societal identities.
This experience enroots her aesthetic practice into sculptural modules as her [in]direct social commentary as seen in THE BILLBOARDPROJECT, composed of big scale installations of second-hand clothes which were displayed in central Accra. She is employing metaphors of repetition and disguise in her portrait series TEXTURES and SIDESPECIFIC presented in specifically identified locations.
Opoku holds an MA (2003) in Fashion from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. Her residencies include Art OMI, Ghent (NY/2012)/, Iwalewa Haus Bayreuth (DE/2013) and Jan van Eyck Institute (NL/2014). Opoku was recently awarded a fellowship for the Kala Institute Berkeley (CA/2015). She is included in the touring group exhibitions Making Africa (2015-20) curated by Amelie Klein and Okwui Enwezor. Upcoming exhibitions include the Material Effects curated by Yesomi Umolu at Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan and Designing Futures curated by Christina de Middel at the LagosPhoto Festival 2015.
The research project investigates the entanglements of aesthetics and politics in situations of radical social transformation, and the becoming of icons. What constitutes the ‘seismographic power’ of images, and the sustainability of icons in terms of radicalism? Central to our investigation are diachronic and transcultural filiations within visual culture in the ‚longue durée‘of lusophone Africa. These images are part of visual memory cultures and are enmeshed in thriving political-social movements and recent medial transformations. Our research firstly focuses on Mozambique, particularly because of the foundation of „Instituto Nacional de Cinema“ right after independence in 1975; established in order to produce and promote ‚homemade‘ images for Mozambicans; and conceptualized as a contrast to colonial imageries. Furthermore, Mozambique as part of the „socialist international“ formed an integral part of political dynamics (eg in Algeria, Angola, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau), which found its expression in the iconographies of the time. This internationalism, both ideological and factual, resulted in references and relations which reach beyond Africa as a continent (and connect with, eg, Cuba, GDR, Chile). Contemporary visions of futures seem to meander between political-economic pragmatism and nostalgic utopias and evoke the question of actual ‘originality’. The core question here is the negotiation of recent and historical imaginations of future in iconographies of revolutions; and the investigation of visual archives. The research is located at the triangle of fine arts, film and virtual imageries in digital media such as the internet. “Revolution 3.0” is one of the five research projects of the interdisciplinary Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies.
Picture: © Nayko – http://www.redbubble.com/people/nayko
The Icon Lab is one of the methodological instruments used in the research of the subproject. It´s not only a physical space in the Academy but also a portable, universally usable and applicable method of research.
The background of the development of this method was the task of dealing with images/ pictures related to ´revolution` and ´utopia` properly, in order to avoid unfounded assumptions that are not located in the images´ content. It would have been to simple, for example, to conduct research based on images supplied by the internet to draw conclusions in regards to visual cultures around the two guiding concepts of revolution and utopia, since then the project would have established fixed archives. Those would have only reflected the trends of the time: the project started in 2013. The ´arab spring` would have been emphasized as well the images of political figures like Muammar Gaddafi and Robert Mugabe, that display an existing dispositive in Africa, dictatorial geriatric regime and power. Therefore the method of the Icon Lab seemed to be more appropriate in terms of the complexity of African visual cultures and their diasporas. The archive that is in question is only being created through the participants of the Icon Lab itself.
The question on revolution is consciously asked in a very broad sense, since the term can be used in a lot of different ways and areas. The shared characteristic however is the fact that revolution is always about radical social change, which expresses itself also on images or is even generated in images. We refer here to Hobsbawm´s definition of revolution in ´The Age of Revolution`(1962): revolution as a drastic, persisting social change. What and how it is changed depends on the participants´ own understanding of revolution. Hence, the definitions of revolution, handed in in images as a form of visual communication, extent from decolonialisation to the implementation of democracy and the civil rights, the overcoming of apartheid and segregation, as well as cultural techniques and the change of the conditions of production.
The choreography of the method is explained easily: guests and research partners of the Academy are invited to bring five images that speak about revolution to them. Speak is understood here in the way Bredekamp uses it in his picture act model (Bredekamp 2007): in his „Theorie des Bildakts“ images are seen as actively speaking, posing statements.
|Mobile version of Icon Lab in a session with photographer Frank Marshall, Bayreuth, October 2013|
This assumption structures Bredekamp into the ´schematic` (the images as exemplification), the ´substitutive` (the images acts as a body, e.g. the double helix) and the ´intrinsic`, where the power of the image is derived from its formal elements. Bredekamp remains vague in the identification of the point or relation in the image through which the energy of the images transforms. Something similar is described by the photographer William Greiner, whose work is engaged in the presence of iconic images, like Martin Luther King´s or Malcom X´s. “Insignificant objects in the frame take on larger symbolic meaning,“ writes Greiner. “We as viewers are left to consider images frozen in time, altered not by their aging but our own.”
Icon Lab Participants amongst:
Gilbert Ndi Shang/Kamerun, Sam Ndogo/Kenia, Alain Ricard/Frankreich, Mauro Pinto/Mozambique, Luis Carlos Patraquim/Mozambique, Licinio Azevedo/Mozambique, Kara Lynch/USA, Emeka Alams/USA, Sidney Casfir/Kenia, John Mateer/Südafrika, Jim Chuchu/Kenia, Jessica Williams/USA, Ato Malinda/Kenia, Tosh Gitonga/Kenia, Serawit Bekele/Äthiopien, Ronex/Uganda, Youssef Wahboun/Marokko, Peggy Piesche/Deutschland, Marco Russo/Österreich, Tobias Rupprecht/Deutschland, Frank Marshall/Südafrika, Kupakwashe Mtata/Zimbabwe, Kae Sun/Kanada,…
Founded in October 2012 and inaugurated in a festive event on December 3rd, 2012, the “Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies” will expand the horizon of the well-established field of African Studies at this University at international, national and local levels. Across a broad range of disciplines, it will open dialogues with other Area Studies as well as with fields of research dedicated to ‘systematic’ (i.e. non-regional) approaches. Thus, in its first phase (2012-2016), the Bayreuth Academy will fathom concepts of the future emerging from Africa and its diasporas from different academic perspectives. An essential concern is to engage in general debates about the concept of ‘future’ through insights gained from regional research, notably African Studies. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this project and the setting up of its institutional structures during the next four years.