That, Around Which The Universe Revolves | Chapter V: Berlin | Nov 30, 2017 - Jan 28, 2018 | Thursday - Sunday 2-7 PM


Freeman's #4: The Future of New Writing with Elaine Castillo, Athena Farrokhzad, Johan Harstad, Ishion Hutchinson, Elena Marcu and John Freeman | January 19, 2018 | 8 PM


how does the world breathe now? | Wednesdays


Residency program for artists and curators from Berlin and Lagos 2018 | December 20, 2017 – January 31, 2018


The SAVVY friends membership


That, Around Which The Universe Revolves | Chapter V: Berlin

Exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary | Nov 30, 2017-Jan 28, 2018 | Thur-Sun 2-7PM

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31

Searching for Love. Performance by Nancy Mteki during THAT, AROUND WHICH THE UNIVERSE REVOLVES | Chapter III: Harare (c) Jekesai Njikizana

I am the drum, you are the drum, and we are the drum. Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm. --Babatunde Olatunji (1927-2003)

The research, performance and exhibition project THAT, AROUND WHICH THE UNIVERSE REVOLVES brings together visual artists, urbanists, photographers, performers and theorists to investigate the interrelations of space and time, memory, architecture and urban planning through and beyond Henri Lefebvre’s concept of Rhythmanalysis. The cities of Lagos, Düsseldorf, Harare, Hamburg and Berlin are engaged in a network that investigates their specific urban epistemologies and histories. The cities serve as laboratories of an investigation into the temporal and spacial dimensions of everyday urban life, seen through the interrelations between the body, rhythm and urban structures. The Berlin chapter is the fifth and final chapter of our project. Echoes, memories and findings of two-yearlong research, performances and conversations within and beyond the framework of rhythmanalysis will be presented in an exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary and in a performance and discursive programme at Hebbel am Ufer.

The interconnection of a people's or society's memory and a specific space and time was a driving force behind the works of sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. In his posthumously published book Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, Lefebvre puts a spotlight on the concept of rhythm in his effort to synthesize a new scientific field of knowledge through rhythmanalysis. In general terms, Lefebvre recognises rhythms in our everyday life, in our movements through space and our interactions with objects in space, i.e. in every interaction between the biological and the social. In this seminal work, Lefebvre tries to renegotiate the understanding of urban and rural space, things, media, politics etc. through the concept of rhythm. It is about analysing everydayness, the mundane, the repetitive, the 'interference of linear and cyclical processes', just as much as the cycle of life 'birth, growth, peak, then decline and end', and all these supply 'the framework for the analyses of the particular, therefore real and concrete cases that feature in music, history and lives of individuals or groups'.

Understanding and coping with the limits of Lefevbre’s perspective, the project proposes the artist as a contemporary rhythmanalyst who could chronicle a delimited space and people. Contemporary artists and performers are invited to investigate how heritage is produced, reshaped and unmade within cities as archives of rhythms. The performative interventions and discursive programs in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Hamburg invited African and Diasporic artists to also investigate the history of African presence and resistance in Germany to rethink temporal-historical and spatial-geographical urban concepts.

The project gives room for reflections on the intimate interrelations between African and German cities by investigating, for instance, German cities' fiercely debated colonial histories choreographically, by way of Rhythmanalysis that introduces a play of encounter, drawing lines between past and present, between buildings, monuments, stories and the everyday movement of people through them. The project's focus on urgent contemporary urban topics like gentrification, wage gaps, security zones, architecture and urban planning, exclusion, movements, creative spaces and communities through research and African artistic practice, seeks to play an important and innovative contribution to the reception of Lefebvre’s exceptionally significant philosophical and sociological theories that is being put into life and work, rhythm and contemplation within the circuits of this project.

Exhibition with: Akinbode Akinbiyi, Fikret Atay, Vartan Avakian, Allana Clarke, Eli Cortiñas, Masimba Hwati, iQhiya, Delio Jasse, Lamia Joreige, Maibritt Borgen/ Sofía Olascoaga/ Park McArthur/ Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen and Sadia Shiraz, Christian Nyampeta, Trinh Thi Minh Hà

Programme with: Maryan Abdulkarim, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Jacques Coursil, Lamin Fofana, Petina Gappah, Marque Gilmore, Gintersdorfer/Klaßen, Noa Ha, Moses Leo, Dorothee Munyaneza, David Muoz, Omar Nagati, Emeka Okereke, Robin Rhode, Biniyam Schelling, Carole Sidney Louis, AbdouMaliq Simone, Awilda Sterling, Greg Tate, Trinh Thi Minh-Hà

Exhibition architecture (foyer): I-Ching by Lorenzo Sandoval


Artistic direction: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung

Curators: Elena Agudio, Anna Jäger and Saskia Köbschall

Management: Lema Sikod

Production Assistants: Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Johanna Wild


A Collaboration of SAVVY Contemporary with Gintersdorfer/Klaßen, Q-Dance, Njelele Art Station, Hebbel am Ufer, FFT Düsseldorf and Kampnagel Hamburg

2016 – 2018 in Lagos, Düsseldorf, Harare, Hamburg and Berlin

The project is funded by the TURN fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

FILM SERIES: how does the world breathe now?

Session N°46 | SAMBIZANGA with Barbara Gronau and Maja Figge

January 18, 2018 | 7 PM [Please note: A Thursday for this week!]

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Free entrance - donations welcome


For the 46th session of our series we are excited to host Dr. Barbara Gronau and Dr. Maja Figge who will screen Sambizanga from Sarah Maldoror.

Sambizanga. Sarah Maldoror. 1972. 35mm. 102 minutes. [Film will be screened in 16mm format.]

The happy family life of Maria and Domingos (Elisa Andrade and Domingos Oliviera), a young black African couple in Portuguese-occupied Angola, is shattered when repressive colonial authorities hustle Domingos into jail, leaving Maria to tirelessly search for him across Luanda. Set shortly before the 1961 uprising and made with a cast of veteran anti-colonial activists, Maldoror’s deft, bracing film distills decades of incomprehensible suffering into one human-sized story.

Barbara and Maja explain their choice as follows:

Sarah Maldoror made her film, beautifully shot in 35mm, to raise consciousness about and solidarity with the forgotten wars of independence in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau for European and US audiences. Instead of focusing on the war she presents the momentum that ignites the uprising in 1961 and even more – this motivates our choice – the film shows “Le temps que l'on met a marcher” (Sarah Maldoror) from a female perspective.

Barbara Gronau, PhD, is professor for theatre studies at Berlin University of the Arts and spokesperson of the research training group “Das Wissen der Künste” (Knowledge in the Arts). In 2010, Gronau obtained the Joseph Beuys Award for Research for her Ph.D. thesis on installation-art as interference of theatre and visual arts: Theaterinstallationen. Performative Räume bei Beuys, Boltanski und Kabakov (München: Fink, 2010). Since 2008 she developed considerations on negational aspects of the performative, such as passivity, silence, destruction, desubjectivation, which has been reflected in numerous writings and research projects. Publications include: Performanzen des Nichttuns (Wien: Passagen, 2008), Ökonomien der Zurückhaltung. Kulturelles Handeln zwischen Askese und Restriktion (Bielefeld: transcript, 2010), How to Frame. On the Threshold of Performance and Visual Arts (Sternberg, Berlin/New York: 2016).

Maja Figge, PhD, is a guest professor for media theories at the University for Art and Design Linz. Her research interests include gender, race and media, critical whiteness studies, postcolonial theory, film, history and memory, political feelings, German and transnational cinema. She is co-curator of the exhibition MOV!NG ON. Border activism – Strategies for anti-racist actions (Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin 2005). Currently, she works on a study on the entanglements of cinematic modernisms looking at transnational film relations between Western Europe and India (1947-1975).

Sambizanga is shown courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. We thank the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg "Das Wissen der Künste" at the Universität der Künste for their support of this of this event, and Arsenal Institut for Film and Video Art for their support with the projector and projection. Much thanks also to Juana Awad, Anselm Heller, Elena Rossi-Snook, Markus Ruff, and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus. And our warm gratitude to Sarah Maldoror and Annouchka De Andrade for granting us the permission to show this film.


Readings and Conversations with Elaine Castillo, Athena Farrokhzad, Johan Harstad, Ishion Hutchinson, Elena Marcu and John Freeman

In collaboration with silent green Kulturquartier and The Reader Berlin

January 19, 2018 | 8pm

SAVVY Contemporary | Kuppelhalle at Silent Green

Gerichtstraße 35 | 13347 Berlin-Wedding


regular: 8 EUR | reduced: 5 EUR

combi (entrance plus magazine): 15 EUR


How thrilling to continue our tradition of hosting the Berlin launches of the fantastic literary journal Freeman's. The new year brings a special edition that asks all the right questions about the future of new writing.

Dissatisfied with the diminishment for literary culture to peer into the future of writing through narrowing confinements of nationality, genre or generation, Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing asks what happens if you take these restrictions off, and start reading across all fields?

The literary journal departs from the series’ progression of themes like Arrival, Family, Home. This special fourth installment instead introduces a list of twenty-nine poets, essayists, novelists, and short story writers from around the world who are shaping the literary conversation right now and will continue to impact it in years to come.

Drawing on recommendations from book editors, critics, translators, booksellers, and authors from across the globe, Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing includes pieces from a select list of writers aged twenty-five to seventy, from almost twenty countries and writing in nearly as many languages. This is a new kind of list, and an aesthetic manifesto for our times. Against a climate of nationalism and silo’d thinking, writers remain influenced by work from outside their region, genre, and especially age group. Serious readers have always read this way too—and Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing brings them an exciting view of where writing is going next.

“The greatest joy of reading for me is how it allows you to go anywhere, to be anyone. There’s an ethical dimension to this permission, though. And in our contentious times, it feels more important than ever to think of writing as a global enterprise, not a national one, and to try to peel back the layers of ageism, sexism, and regionalism which often encrust literary debate in that moment of regarding. I believe once we do that—and read the emerging writers assembled here—the future looks incredibly bright.”—John Freeman

In three issues, the literary anthology from leading editor John Freeman has gained an international following and wide acclaim: “fresh, provocative, engrossing” (, “impressively diverse” (O Magazine), “bold, searching” (Minneapolis StarTribune).

Elaine Castillo was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her debut novel America Is Not the Heart will be published by Viking (United States/Canada), Atlantic (UK), and Foksal (Poland) in 2018.

Athena Farrokhzad was born in 1983 and lives in Stockholm. She is a poet, literary critic, translator, playwright, and teacher of creative writing. Her first volume of poetry, Vitsvit, was published in 2013 by Albert Bonniers Förlag (translated by Jennifer Hayashida and published as White Blight by Argos Books). In 2016, her second volume of poetry, Trado, which was written together with the Romanian poet Svetlana Carstean, was published.

Johan Harstad is a Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, play-wright, and graphic designer. His novels include Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?—a Kirkus Reviews best book of the year, which has been published in thirteen countries—and Max, Mischa, and the Tet Offensive. He is also the author of 172 Hours on the Moon, which won the 2008 Norwegian Brage Prize in the young adult/children’s literature category; four plays; a collection of short stories; and a prose collection. He lives in Oslo, Norway.

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of the poetry collections Far District (Peepal Tree Press, 2010) and House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). He teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.

Elena Marcu is a partner and editor at Black Button Books, the first all-female run publishing house in Romania. She is a music junkie, formally the PR manager for a Romanian Independent Music Label. She is addicted to coffee, her headphones, her Kindle and Instagram.

John Freeman was the editor of Granta until 2013. His books include How to Read a Novelist, Tales of Two Cities, and Tales of Two Americas. Maps, his debut collection of poems, is out from Copper Canyon in fall 2017. He is the executive editor at Literary Hub and teaches at the New School and New York University. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the Paris Review and has been translated into twenty languages.

FILM SERIES: how does the world breathe now?

Session N°47 | Al-Massir with Mahmoud Hassino

January 24, 2018 | 7 PM

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Free entrance - donations welcome


For our 47th screening, Mahmoud Hassino brings us Al-Massir/Destiny, an Egyptian-French historical drama set in Andalusia, Spain in the 12th century.   

Al-Massir/Destiny. Youssef Chahine. 1997. 135mins. French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Al-Massir/Destiny was written and directed by Youssef Chahine who was awarded the 50th annual lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of Averroes/Ibn Rushd, the 12th century Andalusian philosopher, who has a special connection to the Andalusian Caliph Al-Mansour and his two sons. Averroes believes that God wants people to interpret and debate the Koran. This leads to social and political unrest that results in Averroes’s persecution.

Mahmoud Hassino describes his choice as follows:

I see the film as an allegory of the distinct political situations in different Arab countries. It reveals how Arab dictators sponsor fundamentalists who claim to be helping to bring more stability. While it directly references the suffering of Egyptians under dictatorship and fundamentalism, it can also be understood as an allegory of what happened in Syria and what is now happening in other Arab countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

As a gay person, I have always admired Chahine’s artistic coming-out in his 1982 film An Egyptian Story. The film stars Nour Al-Sherif as the gay protagonist. Al-Sherif had also played a tormented gay character in the 1977 film Cat on Fire, alongside Poussi, his wife in life as well as in the film. The actor would later suffer from a media campaign against him because of his sexual orientation.

Furthermore, the film is inspirational because it shows that one can best resist persecution through the use of one’s talents. In 1994, Chahine released his film Al-Mohager/The Emigrant, which was based on the biblical story of Joseph. The film suffered long bans because of two law suits filed against it by Muslim and Christian fundamentalists. I find Al-Massir to be Chahine’s response to fundamentalism.

Mahmoud Hassino is a Syrian journalist and blogger. Before the war in Syria, he wrote about arts and culture for a weekly magazine. His attention shifted toward documenting human rights violations and war reporting during the Syrian uprising and the consequent civil war. He started the first Syrian LGBTI magazine Mawaleh in 2012 to raise awareness about Syrian LGBTI issues and organised the first Mr Gay Syria competition in Istanbul on 14 Feb. 2016. He is also a character in the film Mr Gay Syria by Turkish director Ayse Toprak.

Mahmoud received his asylum status in Germany in September 2014 and has been working at the Queer Refugees Project of the Schwulenberatung Berlin since August 2015.

We are very grateful to Zawya Distribution, and Nawara Shoukry in particular, for their support of this screening.


Residency program for artists and curators from Berlin and Lagos 2018

December 20, 2017 – January 31, 2018


From 20th December 2017 on two calls for application are open in order to continue the residency program for young artists and curators from the cities of Berlin and Lagos. The project, which was initiated in 2015 and has been renewed and expanded since then, is a cooperation between Goethe-Institut Nigeria and Arthouse Foundation in Lagos and the Center for Art and Urbanistics (ZK/U), SAVVY Contemporary, the Office of Art and Culture in Berlin Mitte in conjunction with Gallery Wedding – Space for Contemporary Art.

Since its beginning, the aim of the exchange program is to offer an individualized opportunity. This includes a working permit expanding over several weeks, consulting, contact, and exchange possibilities and further the opportunity to present the final results within different formats. The first participant has been artist and curator Folakunle Oshun from Lagos followed by performance and video artist Tito Aderemi-Ibitola who presented her projects dealing with identity, gender roles and racism issues in 2016. Thanks to Arthouse Foundation Lagos, who joins the exchange program in 2018, it now works in both directions. This time the call is also directed towards young artists and curators living in Berlin to whom a six-week stay at Lagos is offered. Simultaneously an artist or curator from Lagos will be resident in Berlin for three month. The three participating artists and curators are connected throughout the program and will meet each other.

For Goethe-Institut Nigeria, that finances the residency, the exchange program means a deepening of the relationship between Germany and Nigeria and also an opportunity for a change in perspective with the interested public.

Part of the application should be the description of the intended project. The media can be chosen freely within the field of the visual artists and performances but should deal with the topic of “Unsustainable Privileges”. What does it mean to have privileges, to lose them or to earn some? What new perspectives, spaces, archaeologies and social circulations do we see under the influence of global migration? Do privileges have a future? What could this look like?

The examination of the topic of privileges is a re-directed question about the north and the south that is marked by postcolonial relations. The endeavor is a comparison and/or collision of perspectives from the North and the South that each participated brings into the project and experiences in the particular country. The topic is an invitation to locally explore the recent future and all forms of privileges in order to express a renegotiation in a creative language.

The Goethe-Institut | The globally active cultural institute promotes knowledge of the German language abroad, cultivates international cultural cooperation and provides a comprehensive image of Germany. In times of new global challenges the work of the Goethe-Institut aims at deepening an understanding among cultures and to strengthen the reputation of Germany with the World. The name of the Goethe-Institut in Germany stands for 159 institutes in 98 countries, of which 12 are Goethe-Institut in Germany. As part of around 100 residency programs each year, we offer first of all artists from Germany the opportunity to live and work abroad for a while.

You can download the full description below:

Residency Berlin-Lagos 2018

Residency Lagos-Berlin 2018


Pease send all documents until January 31st to

The participants will be announced in March 2018


The SAVVY friends gift offer

Join the S A V V Y friends yourself or gift a membership to your savvy friends and family and benefit from exclusive guided tours, special membership events, artists’ studio visits, limited editions of works by artists from the S A V V Y network and many more surprises throughout another exciting year.

The best part: with your membership you will support the work of S A V V Y Contemporary – a cultural non-profit organization driving urgent artistic, political, aesthetic and social discourses W I T H O U T structural funding or institutionalized financial support. In the past eight years, we – as art space, discursive platform, eating and drinking spot, njangi house, space for conviviality – have realized a kaleidoscope of exhibitions, long-term projects, performances, archives, film screenings, lectures, concerts, readings, talks, dances and more - on matters and questions urgent to us and you. Let's continue! Let’s be friends!


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