Never Memorize Poems in Landscape Leeway

What impact do landscape transformations have on our visual, oral and musical narrations, between documentation and fiction, about a specific place?

In exhibition and performance, NEVER MEMORIZE POEMS IN LANDSCAPE LEEWAY offers different artistic approaches to the relation between strategies of collective memory, construction of utopias, memories and fictions in two very different regions and continents: the devastated post-mining landscapes of Lausitz/Germany and Enugu/Nigeria.

Part one 
You can call it temporary landscape, evoked by the mining industry, symbolizes a time when landscapes and places change faster than human memory can handle. Music can save memories and emotions about transformed or lost places. Constanze Fischbeck's 2-channel video installation "Leeway" gives one sound to two simultaneously visible locations. It is the open-cast mining area Jänschwalde (near Cottbus) and the former coal mining area of Enugu in the East of Nigeria.

These culminate in one scene: Didi Cheeka, who had to migrate from Enugu, visits the spatially displaced village of New Horno. The now 14-year-old aseptic settlement, which copies the old village structures, reminds him of the country Biafra, which, like the original village Horno (2004 devastated by the open pit) materially no longer exists. There, he plays a song from 1972 by the Nigerian acid rock band Ofo – The Black Company and analyzes this song.

What can abandoned spaces say about absence, about amnesia? What feelings of longing, of nostalgia are evoked when we recall music from a forgotten period? I use the term Funkadelia to retroactively refer to the music that arose from the ruins of the Biafran-Nigerian War (1967-70), a psychedelic blend of rock and soul that presented the society that arose from the defeat of Biafra in a defiant dance on unexploded bombs - a crazy mix of hedonist lust and unspoken resistance to the threat of destruction.

Didi Cheeka, excerpt from „Heimweh - The Call of Old Lost Things“

Although Funkadelia offered a flight from reality in the turbulent era of the post-Biafra period, more or less, everything about this music is forgotten, an unknown continent much like the war from which it arose. Along biographical lines, through his father’s silence and mother’s storytelling and record playing, Didi Cheeka’s presentation offers a point of convergence between lost music and lost spaces – the presence of that which is absent.

Part two
As part of their performance, Discoteca Flaming Star (Cristina Gómez Barrio, Sofia Lomba, Sara Pereira and Wolfgang Mayer) will present a new fragment of their horror comedy cycle "Ingrid“ (2003 – present) called “Landscape Leeway“. Its protagonist Ingrid finds herself the devastated post-mining landscape of Lausitz, Germany, a landscape inhabited by ghosts from sunken villages and buried deserts. Their approach to memory, politically shaped landscape and monstrosity, marked by personal narrative and contingency, will be superimposed with the poetry of Donna Ogunnaike who among other things examines songs of the miners' wives in Enugu. By means of poetry, film and music, they explore the complex relationship between nature, landscape and transformation, collective transmission of cultural heritage, memory and history/ies and geopolitical utopias.

Constanze Fischbeckworks as stage designer, filmmaker, curator and lecturer in the context of theatre and art. Her artwork is based on the space and present of specific locations and their societal contexts. Her cinematic works combine the analysis of spaces with performative, documentary and discursive approaches. Her work was presented at various festivals, art institutes and theatres. She lives in Berlin.

Didi Cheeka is co-founder of Lagos Film Society – an alternative film space dedicated to founding the first arthouse cinema in Nigeria – and Lagos Film Review. His artistic practice, as filmmaker, critic, journalist, engages with traumatic memory - the process by which people migrate from their own memory - and the act of forgetting. Didi's works has been presented in cinemas, newspapers, online journals, talks and symposia. 

Discoteca Flaming Star is an interdisciplinary artistic and collaborative performance project. Discoteca Flaming Star aims to be a mental space that all kinds of artists can enter to play with different paths for contemporary aesthetic praxis, searching for its limits and avoiding processes of formalization, creating spaces for experiments and displaced memories.

Poet, writer and Energy Law expert,  Donna Ogunnaike is arguably the most compelling voice in Nigeria’s intense performance poetry circuit today. She has been described in the only ranking effort for spoken word in Nigeria (EGC Platform) as the “queen of spoken word poetry in Nigeria” for the year 2013 and ranked amongst the top 20 poets in Nigeria in the year 2012.