The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse:
On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery
The exhibition and performance project deliberates around concepts of the supranatural beyond Western misconceptions – through an exhibition, performances, lectures, and other invocations. The project looks at how witchery phenomena and practices manifest themselves within cultural, economical, political, religious and scientific spaces in Africa and beyond.
Exhibition 03.06.–07.08.2016 Thu–Sun 14:00–19:00
with Georges Adéagbo, Atis Rezistans (Henrike Naumann, Bastian Hagedorn, Guerly Laurent), Sammy Baloji, Jean-Ulrick Désert, Haris Epaminonda, Em’kal Eyongakpa, Louis Henderson, Ayrson Heráclito, Dil Humphrey-Umezulike, Patricia Kaersenhout, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Vladimir Lucien, Marco Montiel-Soto, Emeka Ogboh, Priscila Rezende, Nassim Rouchiche, Georges Senga, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Andrew Tshabangu, Minnette Vári
Invocations 09.06.–12.06.2016 Thu–Sun 14:00–19:00
with Nora Adwan, Ayodele Arigbabu, The Bakol, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Christian Botale Molebo, Erna Brodber, Lamin Fofana, Shirin Fahimi, Sasha Huber & Petri Saarikko, David Guy Kono, Vladimir Lucien, Seloua Luste Boulbina, Percy Mabandu, Olivier Marboeuf, Lêda Martins, Carlos Martiel, Achille Mbembe (Skype), Molemo Moiloa, Katrien Pype, Greg Tate, Angela Wachuka, Wanda Wyporska, Jason Young
Curation Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Co-Curation Elena Agudio
Co-Curation Performance Programme
Nathalie Mba Bikoro
The moth that enters
your house at night is a grudge
that somebody is holding
against you. It half-sits, bothered
by your light and the roof
over your head. It spreads
its small evening wherever
it lands, over the things
you love most. A dark tent
of dark intentions.
Any deliberation on the “future” necessitates a reflection on the past and the present. Otherwise, discourses around future(s) are bound to be escapist – intriguing from a far, but indeed far from intriguing. This project proposes looking at witchery, its idioms, proverbs, metaphors, symbols, chants and otherwise expressions as manifestations of cultural, economical, political, historical, medical, technological or scientific infrastructures on which parallel realities are built, and on which futures can be built. It will explore witchery as an epistemological space and a medium of continuities between the African continent and its Diaspora.
Inadequately stressed are the aspects of witchcraft that emphasize interdependence and conviviality without obfuscating the individual or collective aspirations to dream, fantasize and explore new dimensions of being. A closer look at the everyday discourses and practices of Cameroonians suggests that witchcraft is about much more than just the dark side of humanity. As a multidimensional phenomenon, witchcraft is best studied as a process in which violent destruction and death are rare and extreme exceptions, employed mostly when all attempts at negotiating conviviality between the familiar and the undomesticated have been exhausted.
Nomenclatures or evaluations whether witchcraft is good or bad will not be of interest. The project intends to complexify by looking at the supranatural beyond Western scholarship and religion. The aim is to create new spaces of understanding through critical questions. The prism of art and discourse will be used to liberate witchcraft from that space of the “savage slot” in which it has been confined for centuries by “science” and monotheistic religions.
With an exhibition and a series of invocations, artists, practitioners and researchers are invited to reflect on the following threads:
Pour en Finir avec le Jugement de Dieu:
The Exorcisement of Witchery in Ritual
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” – the biblical statement still condemns ritual practices non-conform with monotheistic religions. This exhibition chapter confronts witchery from a religious and ritual point of view, in an effort to exorcize – not the spirits eminent to witchery but the projections imposed upon witchery. Artaud’s Pour en Finir avec le Jugement de Dieu serves here as a metaphor of witchery as refute, rebellion, queering against a religious and power adjudication as framed within colonial enterprises, and on the other hand witchery as an epitome of and a consent to multiplicity of gods, deities or other supreme beings.
Artists Georges Adéagbo, Haris Epaminonda, Georges Senga, Vladimir Lucien, Andrew Tshabangu
Beyond Abyssal Thinking:
Witchery as Epistemology
Witchery practices encompass a wealth of knowledge systems while complex technological concepts like the 0/1-binary computer system are advanced witchery for many. This chapter aims at going beyond abyssal thinking and epistemic blindness to explore other “ecologies of knowledge” (Boaventura de Souza Santos) and reflects on witchery as knowledge production and dissemination, as epistemological systems.
Artists Em’kal-Eyongakpa, Louis Henderson, Marco Montiel-Soto, Emeka Ogboh, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Minette Vari
Na who gi you for Nyongo?
On Zombification Economies
This chapter deliberates on manifestations of witchery from an economic perspective. Zombification, the act of sacrificing a human being for economic gain, is referred to as Ekong (Douala), Nyongo (Bakweri), Shipoko (Mozambique), Obasinjom (Banyangi) etc. It could be likened with Marx’ reflections on alienation as wage labour is an alienation of life: one works not in order to live, but in order to obtain a means of life whereby the capitalist owns the labour process. Such is the case with concepts of Nyongo etc. which take their cue from the inception of the capitalist system in the age of slavery.
Artists Atis Rezistans, Sammy Baloji, Jean-Ulrick Désert, Dil Humphrey-Umezulike
We see am fo wata:
On Supra-realities and Sociopolitics
Anecdotes, myths and other narratives on witchery are omnipresent in many societies, especially in Africa. Be it political ranks, family relations, healing possibilities or power relations; be it in the way society is formed, ruled and protected; be it in literal, cinematic and folkloric expressions – these parallel realities form the backbone of socio-political structures. This is reflected in daily expressions. We see am fo wata (we saw it in water) is an answer to the question: How do you know? It infers the possibility of knowing something, acting, existing and expressing beyond the realm of reason. It is looking into the abyss of the unknown to find answers to questions that still have to be posed.
Artists Kiluanji Kia Henda, Patricia Kaersenhout, Ayrson Heráclito, Priscila Rezende, Nassim Rouchiche
The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse is part of the African Futures project initiated by the Goethe-Institut. The project is supported by the Goethe-Institut and the TURN Fund of the German Federal Arts Foundation. What might various African futures look like? How do artists and scholars imagine this future? What forms and narratives of science fictions have African artists developed? Who generates knowledge about Africa? And, what are the different languages we use to speak about Africa’s political, technological and cultural tomorrow? These were some of the questions addressed by the festival African Futures, initiated by the Goethe-Institut. Three concurrent interdisciplinary festivals in Johannesburg/South Africa, Lagos/Nigeria and Nairobi/Kenya in October 2015 explored the future, following potential narratives and artistic expression in literature, fine arts, performance, music, film, and digital formats. In 2016, African Futures will be continued in Berlin in partnership with SAVVY Contemporary. goethe.de/africanfutures