Floating Sediments on Slow Moving Waters.
Text on Textile

In a humble attempt to feel carefully through our current realities (intensified by the recent pandemic), we re-open the SAVVY house by spontaneously and deeply opening our archives. We invited you to spend time in our company of texts and contexts: 

On temporary sediments, Bògòlanfini "mud cloths", volumes, books, publications, records lay keeping the necessary distance to the present times, these slow moving waters, marked by challenged proximity.

One meter with one and a half meter 
even islands can be inhabited by one person at a time. 

The books started their alluvium  from the shelves, 
moving in diagonals from the far end of the SAVVY space 
to the center.

The cloths, as floating sediments, come from Malian land, 
combed soaked
stitched boiled
dyed dried
from fermented mud of different moving waters.

As a non-silent library, a moving display and flow of texts on textiles invite for experiencing knowledge in context, surrounded by bodies of matter, human and beyond, clouds and scents of sounds, always prepared for a conversation. 

SAVVY.doc - rather a space for epistemic disobedience

The archive, library, documentation center always changing shape, and consequently size, is first of all a hosted and hosting space, as much as a guest and guesting space. Together with the actants in it, the caretakers, the bodies it hosts and is hosted by, aims to encourage and therefore to enable access to a variety of critical, often rare, counter to and beyond canons and infrequent narratives. Generating itself constantly, the archive is changed, accessed, open to the fallibility of the human factor it contains and its contained of. 

SAVVY.doc practices "epistemic disobedience" [1], challenging known universality, which accepts its temporality as a fluid condition and not as an obsession to permanence. The items have different provenances and forms, and the decision to catalogue, keep, store, make accesible or stay ephemeral is decentralized and participatory. 

Our shelves are home to a multitude of written philosophical thoughts spanning from critical theory to literature, from art magazines to political analysis in serial publications, from exhibition catalogues to poetry collections - in varying languages and scripts. One can also find: audio, video material, scores, objects as anchors to memory and various earthly methods of documentation embodied. A curiosity driven type of browsing is key to accessing the material in the space.

Through questions like: Whose story is this? Who is the owner of this past? Who is the author? SAVVY.doc unravels identity(-ies), opts for relational knowledge against obedience, and stresses the connection between micro and macro historiography. What about wearing the text and reading the textile?

Outlining the impermanence and unconditionally present performative element to it, SAVVY.doc becomes a collaborative space and an act of reflection on our present and future, rather than a tool for categorization and removal. As an archive, we stand for an entangled chronology, neither of the past or the future, yet keeping in mind the responsibility for tomorrow. [2]

Physically, we believe the materiality of the archive according to Achille Mbembe  “[...] is proof that a life truly existed, that something actually happened, an account of which can be put together. The final destination of the archive is therefore always situated outside its own materiality, in the story that it makes possible.” [3]

We owe the inception and foundation stone of this documentation center – its vibrant voices, thoughts and stories – to the archive of Pius Bejeng Soh (1944-2020), anthropologist, historian, storyteller, wordsmith and rhythmanalyst.  

We want to thank the students from last year's project Spinning Triangles: Ignition of a School of Design for rescuing the physical archive materials on 30.07.2019 during an unpredictably damaging flood. 

Note to the visitor: We are ready to open various conversations. We aim for our radical archive to be a space where archivists, artists, researchers and objects actively interact in a performative process of keeping, storying, making accessible and becoming. 



Our shelves host books coloured in dots: GREEN marks philosophical thought, theoretical essays and critical theory; RED guides poems, novels & short stories; The BLUE group exhibits catalogues; Check out YELLOW for monographs, artist books & solo shows catalogues. Although we make decisions and distinctions and come up with structures to search, tag and navigate the archive, they come as modes of activating the items. We embrace constant change and fluidity to those decisions. 

Without a dot are the Special Collections, which include critical publications such as: ABBIA, Présence Africaine, Peuple Noire Peuple Africaine, Small Axe, Glendora, Chimurenga, Afrika Zamani, NAQD, Rab-Rab, Revue Noir, Casa, NKA, exhibited in the SAVVY.doc library space. 

WHITE DOTS – The Berlin Archive of Alanna Lockward. After her sudden passing in 2019, her library was donated to SAVVY Contemporary. Alanna Lockward (1961–2019) was a decolonial thinker, curator, documentary filmmaker and novelist. She engaged in a number of curatorial projects on all continents: BE.BOP Black Europe Body Politics, Días Hábiles, Pares & Nones, Folding the Caribbean and was the founder of Art Labour Archives. How does the archive become the embodiment of a memory? The archive’s focus are Lockward’s Berlin years as well as her curatorial project BE.BOP Black Europe Body Politics, which was initiated at Ballhaus Naunynstraße (2012) and later realised at Volksbühne (2016) and Maxim Gorki Theatre (2018), outlines her scholarly and artistic examination of concepts such as decolonial thinking, Pan-Africanism, Black diaspora, the relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, activism, and artivism.


Walter D. Mignolo: “Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom”, Theory, Culture & Society, 2009: Vol. 26 (7–8): 1–23.


“[…] the question of the archive is not, we repeat, a question of the past. […] It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow.” Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever. A Freudian Impression, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).


Achille Mbembe, The Power of the Archive and its Limits in Refiguring the Archive, (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002).