THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery


how does the world breathe now? | Wednesdays


EVERYTHING IS GETTING BETTER. Unknown Knowns of Polish (Post)Colonialism | April 27 - June 4


6th Exercise with NOMEN | May 2


THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery

We have the pleasure of presenting you our new SAVVY Contemporary publication: THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery edited by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Federica Bueti. The book is designed by Elsa Westreicher and published by THE GREEN BOX.

How do 'witchery' phenomena and practices manifest within cultural, economical, political, religious and scientific spaces in Africa and beyond? This publication is a compendium to the eponymous exhibition project and public programme curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Elena Agudio at SAVVY Contemporary, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut South Africa in the framework of the project African Futures. Through an exhibition and a series of invocations, the project considered 'witchery' as an epistemological space and a medium of continuities between the African continent and its Diaspora. The publication includes essays by Erna Brodber, Seloua Luste Boulbina, Vladimir Lucien, Percy Mabandu, and Greg Tate a.o, and visual contributions by artists Georges Adéagbo, Haris Epaminonda, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Emeka Ogboh, Priscilla Rezende and Minnette Vari a.o.

This publication has been generously supported by Goethe-Institut South Africa via TURN Fund der Kulturstiftung des Bundes.


312 pages, 34 illustrations, English / German

ISBN 978-3-941644-95-3

EUR 19,00


EVERYTHING IS GETTING BETTER. Unknown Knowns of Polish (Post)Colonialism

April 28- June 4, 2017 | Thursday-Sunday 2-7pm

Opening: April 27 | Symposium: April 28

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Colonial and Maritime League demonstrating in support of Polish colonies, Poznan, July 1938 From the archive of Janek Simon


With: Agnieszka Polska, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Janek Simon, Karol Radziszewski, Linas Jablonskis, Marek Raczkowski, Oleksiy Radynski, Slavs and Tatars, Tomáš Rafa, Zbigniew Libera, Zorka Wollny with Christine Schörkhuber (on El Hadji Sy) and the Club of Polish Losers.

Curated by Joanna Warsza

Architecture: Janek Simon, Assistant curator: Mirela Baciak

Opening April 27, 2017 | 7PM >>> FACEBOOK EVENT

Symposium April 28, 2017 | 3-7.30 PM >>> FACEBOOK EVENT

In light of recent developments in Poland, you might have asked yourself what is in fact going on? Why have the government-fueled rhetoric of ‘rising up from the knees’; alienation from the EU; have an obstinate refusal of any critical self-examination and fear of the ‘other’ gone mainstream?

The exhibition Everything is Getting Better. Unknown Knowns of Polish (Post)Colonialism and the accompanying symposium propose to reverse the trope of permanent Polish exceptionalism and victimhood (always torn between Germany and Russia) by casting a light on how colonial and postcolonial forces have navigated the territories of Eastern-Europe. As a hegemon of its own history, Poland pictures its expansionary reveries both in its immediate vicinity (Ukraine and Lithuania) as well as overseas, echoes of which can be found in the current right-wing political rhetoric. The backbone of the show is the timeline/chronic of the Maritime and Colonial League performatively staged by artist-cum-traveller Janek Simon, including a selection of worksfrom his exploration of cultural geographies of the country’s colonial legacy. In fact, Liga Morska – The Maritime League, created in 1930 to implement the colonies in Cameroon or Madagascar, continues to exist in its present guise as a Maritime and River organization.

A choice of works presented in the show expands, contextualizes, and footnotes the timeline. Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa engage with the history of Polish refugees evacuated to Iran during World War II, from where some fled onwards to Uganda, where they were housed in refugee camps.The collective Slavs and Tatars features a body of works on other orientalisms, led by an antimodernist trope of facing backwards, towards history, but moving into the future. A new film by Agnieszka Polska refers to Slavdom as analyzed by renowned scholar Maria Janion: a concept which on the one hand inadvertently brings Poles closer to Russia, while at the same time sharpening their aspirations towards Western universalism at the price of self-colonisation. Karol Radziszewski depicts the life of August Agbola O’Brown, a Nigerian-born jazz musician and combatant of the Warsaw Uprising; Zbigniew Libera imagines a moment of Polish troops cheerfully joining the US missions in Iraq in 2003; in a new film commission, Kiev-based artist Oleksiy Radinsky reveals the current mechanisms of Polish infrastructural protectionism towards Ukraine while Vilnus-based Linas Jablonskis drafts an imaginable scenario for Lithuania once dominated by Poland. Zorka Wollny creates a sound extension of paintings by El Hadji Sy about distress and death of migrants at sea. Marek Raczkowski, Tomáš Rafa and the Berlin ‘Polish Loser Club’– Klub der Polnischen Versager diagnose the current madness of a country, where political elites are again dreaming of Intermarium – a geopolitical federation of Eastern-European bloc led by Poland from Baltic Sea to Black Sea. The exhibition tells a story of the nurturing of the (post)colonial psyche of a neurotic country, superior and inferior both to the east and the west, where “everything today is changing for the better.”

OPAQUE TO HERSELF. Postcolonialism in Central-Eastern Europe

Symposium curated by Jan Sowa

April 28, 2017 | 3 -7.30 PM | SCHEDULE BELOW

With: Andrzej Leder, Ekaterina Degot, Janek Simon in conversation with Ana Teixeira Pinto , Monika Bobako, Oleksiy Radinsky, Slavs and Tatars

Lecture-performance by Slavs and Tatars

'Your map of Africa is really quite nice. But my map of Africa lies in Europe. Here is Russia, and here... is France, and we're in the middle — that's my map of Africa.' - Otto von Bismarck (in: Eugen Wolf: Vom Fürsten Bismarck und seinem Haus. Tagebuchblätter. Berlin 1904)

According to some thinkers, there’s an etymological link between the words “Slav” and “slave”. Scholars such as Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein have shown that the part of the European continent East of the river Elbe and inhabited mostly by Slavs was the first peripheral zone of capitalist world-economy in early modern times. The whole block of countries – the Polish-Lithuanian Union being the most prominent example in the area – was pushed into a state of dependency and underdevelopment, forcing its rural populations into serfdom. Thus Central and Eastern Europe could be seen historically as the first “periphery”. In parallel, the erstwhile kingdom of Poland and its nobility played a key role in extending the enslavement of peasants deep into South-Eastern Europe in its attempt to build its own colonial empire by dominating Lithuania and annexing vast areas of Ukraine in the 16th century. These colonial aspirations reached their apex in the 19th and 20th century with the establishment of the Colonial Maritime League. Today it continues to inspire a post-colonial attitude in Poland, hampering a much-needed critical reflection over the country's past as well as prolonging confusion over its present status.

This complicated picture has just gone through an interesting turn in recent years. The critical tools of post-colonial theory have been often appropriated in Central and Eastern Europe by the nationalist right and in turn used to reaffirm “traditional identities” and “cultural heritage”: both allegedly colonized and dominated by foreign, liberal ideology. It has led to a form of peculiar “perverted decolonization” to use Ekaterina Degot’s expression, where obscurantist attitudes and religious fundamentalism are presented as attempts to preserve one’s unique and endangered way of life. Perhaps even more interesting is that the twisted, anti-critical use of critical concepts has provided a platform for widespread populist uprising. Contrary to the prognoses of 20th century theorists of modernity from Daniel Lerner to Francis Fukuyama, the peripheries seem to be coming out ahead of the populist curve, thereby demonstrating to the center their miserable future. Yet another perversion which we may call “de-modernization” as it directly opposes the relation between the center and the (semi)peripheries. Perhaps the futures of the United Kingdom, France and other developed nations are to be found in Poland, Hungary or Russia, not the other way around.


3.00 | Introduction by Jan Sowa

3.30 | Resentment, Fantasy and the Melancholic Figure of Polish Nobleman | Andrzej Leder | Presentation and Q&A

4.00 | From Racist Europeanism to “Perverse decolonization”. A Frightening Parcours, in Russia and Elsewhere | Ekaterina Degot | Presentation and Q&A

4.30 | Discussion

5:00 | Semi-peripheral Islamophobies. Immigration and the Polish colonial complex | Monika Bobako | Presentation and Q&A

5.30 | Some Problems of Railway Management and Road Construction in Modern-Day Kiev | Oleksiy Radinsky | Presentation and Q&A

6.00 | Janek Simon in conversation with Ana Teixeira Pinto

6.30 | Discussion and closing remarks

7.00 | I Utter Other | Slavs and Tatars | Lecture performance

This project is funded by HAUPTSTADTKULTURFONDS

SPEAKING FEMINISMS | Preliminary Excercises

6th Exercise with NOMEN | Unfree: Racialized Bodies in the European Neocolony

May 2, 2017 | 4-8 pm

Free entrance - donations welcome


[Would you like to bring your kids? We will provide a self-organized child care. If interested please send an email until Friday, APRIL 28, to with subject line child care and tell us the age of your kid(s). The child care will cost a small fee, the amount of which will depend on the number of children.]

Please register here to help us organize the event:


In this exercise day, the NOMEN Collective unpacks the notion of neutral bodies in the public sphere by exemplifying racialization in the European Neocolony through three different lab talks and one art performance. European debates around women’s bodies have brought once again to the fore how certain religious bodies are reinscribed as unfree in the secular public sphere; it has also reproduced the racialized female body as a problem that needs further regulation, disciplining and policing. Activists on both sides have contended, that the existence of the (religious) female body is either a matter of choice or of oppression. NOMEN aims at complicating the discourse by demonstrating that an alleged neutralization of bodies is actually marking certain bodies as too religious, too violent, too particular and as deserving to be excluded.

NOMEN Collective will take up certain sentiments, emotions, and sensibilities of racialized knowledge-production, religious positioning, intra-communal struggle as always already complicated by the neocolonial gaze. While we agree, that there is no neutral body, that all bodies are produced and made productive through subjugation and discursive webs of power, we want to highlight the phenomenon of racialization that confines certain bodies in their political agency and fail the promise of political equality. The notion of the neocolonial is important in pointing out, how certain power asymmetries in Europe have older genealogies, but come in a new disguise not by simply exercising brute power or change of political structure, but by turning older colonial questions into questions of culture and cultural normativity onto old and new minority subjects.

We contend that the colony is here and now. Further, that it holds untamed subjects and their performing bodies. We will explore in this exercise, what certain body formations hold and what they foreclose. The event will have four parts each opened by one NOMEN Collective founding member with a personal story.

#1 “How secularism structures racial and religious bodies - Or how I was barred from speaking about this” by Sultan Doughan

This lab deals with the notion of neutrality in speaking and representing in public as a racially marked researcher. By taking the example of two cartoons from the Charlie Hebdo context, the talk will ask where the line is between race and religion, between satire and hate-speech and who is in charge to decide that.

#2 “Male Religion and Female Freedom” by Hannah Tzuberi

This lab discusses contemporary notions of the “religious”: How a sphere marked as “religious” is being identified, what kind of practices it is allowed to entail, and what happens to those, who do not comply.

#3 "Colonized Narratives of Violence against Women of Colour" by Armeghan Taheri

By means of storytelling, this lab critically examines how the Violence against Women-discourse perpetrates colonial narratives that become disempowering and limiting for women of colour affected by violence. It dismantles the reality that violence against women of color cannot be decontextualized from racism and classism.

#4 "The Fluid Body on an Uneven Political Ground" by Adi Liraz Through a four-chapter-performance, Liraz will re-create a process of embodying history/ies and being alive as shaped and shifted by the colonial gaze of German and Israeli nationalisms, and will explore the inscribed past of previous generations of her family in her own body of existence, marking the connection between the personal and the collective.

NOMEN Collective for Ethical Art and Political Practice was established on March 2016 in Berlin. NOMEN aims at the creation of spaces, in which discursive boundaries are blurred through participation, reflection and disturbance. By creating this possibility we want to reframe social issues and claim a political and ethical citizenship. In our actions and general conduct, emotions play a key role. Emotions are not the irrational, embarrassing and private side of us, but rather the substance out of which our political and social concerns are made of. Relatedly, our bodies and the body are the central locus and the starting point to think about political issues. Although as NOMEN we seek to include all genders, sexualities and religions in order to generate political action, our aim is not to dissolve communal ties and religious particularities. Quite the contrary, we aim to demonstrate unresolvable particularity, unspeakable truth in order to generate a new ethical frame for marginalized forms of political and social life. NOMEN Collective is carried by six permanent members: Sultan Doughan, Adi Liraz, Patricia Piberger, Nahed Samour, Armeghan Taheri, Hannah Tzuberi.

About the speakers:

Sultan Doughan is an anthropologist and writer based in Berlin for field research for her doctoral thesis. She engages with the question of citizenship, racialization and religious difference for Jewish and Muslim minorities in the field of historical-political education. Sultan is a founding member of the NOMEN Collective.

Adi Liraz is a multidisciplinary artist and curator. Liraz received a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem and an MA from the Art Academy Berlin Weißensee (“Art in Public Context, Spatial Strategies”). She is part of the duo ExDress, member of the Association of Performance Art, Berlin and a founding member of NOMEN Collective. Her personal page is called

Armeghan Taheri holds a LL.M. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, in Human Rights and International Law. As a daughter of Afghan activists, she learned how to turn legacies of trauma, loss, survival and fight into intellectual knowledge. Armeghan is a founding member of the NOMEN Collective.

Hannah Tzuberi has a PhD in Jewish Studies and lives with her family in Berlin. She deals with secularism, religious practice and contemporary configurations of Jewishness in Germany. She is also a blogger: Hannah is a founding member of the NOMEN Collective.

*By using the words female or woman we refer to every person who identifies herself as such. The example in the talks, however, are based on persons who are read as women in public.

Please register here:

how does the world breathe now?




Session N°24: Yesilçam

Zeynep Tuna & Nino Klingler present Savulun Battal Gazi Geliyor

May 3, 2017 | 7pm

Free entrance - donations welcome

Savulun Battal Gazi Geliyor by Natuk Baytan (1973), 99 min, Turkish (simultaneous translation will be provided if necessary)

< how does the world breathe now? > is a 52 week film series at SAVVY Contemporary inviting artists, thinkers, activists, poets, scientists, curators and other practitioners to select movies of our nows* | MORE INFO HERE

Little known outside of Turkey, during the period from (roughly) the mid-1960s until the late 1970s, the domestic movie industry of the country, generally called “Yesilçam” experienced a colorful boom. With yearly production numbers routinely surpassing 150 films, the low-budget mainstream movies generally followed standard genre-templates of love, gangster and fantasy stories which were often directly stolen from Hollywood, French, Italian and Chinese productions.

One of the defining faces of the era was the omnipresent Cüneyt Arkin, who according to website SinemaTürk starred in over 300 films. After starting his career in the early 1960s as a romantic, blue eyed Jön (from French: Jeune) he is mostly remembered today as a Turkish action star; proficient in Martial Arts, Horse-Riding, gun-slinging and everything in between.

One of Arkin’s genre mainstays was the fantastic-historic swashbuckler set in (pre-)Ottoman times. In a number of aesthetically interchangeable films, he has impersonated some of the most iconic pop-cultural figures of Turkish history, including Battal Gazi, Malkoçoglu or Kara Murat.

Savulun Battal Gazi Geliyor is both a paradigmatic example of those films and a feverish, almost otherworldly culmination of their basic aesthetic and narrative formulas. Arkin, acting both as father and son, is out for revenge after his sister has been raped and his village pillaged by bloodthirsty Christians.

Watching this film today not only allows us to dip into the outré-cinema of the Yesilçam era, but also offers us the possibility to think about the reawakened Ottoman-Nostalgia and Muslim machismo in contemporary Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Additionally, the weirdly color-corrected Youtube version to be shown is a testimony to the precarious state of Turkish cinema heritage. As with most of the Yesilçam movies there are no subtitles available - so the non-Turkish speaking audience can expect an old-fashioned cinephile experience, where the images tell their story without the need for words. But fear not: The basic fairytale plot and schematic characters make it easy to understand everything essential. And, if required, we will offer translation and commentary on the go.

Zeynep Tuna is an experimental filmmaker from Eskisehir, Turkey. Nino Klingler writes about cinema. They are currently scholars at the Graduate School of the University of Arts Berlin where they are in the process of realizing the comedic web series on local television production in Turkey: Kanal 82.