How do we recompose a common in a society marked by separations?
In the form of a research process, a series of storytelling sessions, radio books, workshops, zines, and an exhibition accompanied by a discursive and performance programme, the project FourPlusThreeEqualsOne seeks to enact the common denominators that tell (hi)stories about the city of Berlin and its becoming. It engages with the possibilities of repairing and restoring societal balance(s).

Since time immemorial, Western ideologies have generated and narrated commons: those points when circles intersect into commonplaces. Yet, these commonhoods have been produced by systems of limitations, dualities, exclusion, and segregation. Embedded within that very system that until today lacks the activated means of finding a balance between humans, as well as between humans and nature. Contrary to the West, African philosophies, for example, argue – as underlined by author Marimba Ani – that in Ancient Bantu philosophy “nature” [1] was and still is understood as “ntu”, the “rhythm”, the “universal life force” that humans are a part of.

Considering their inclusive ground, within this research series and exhibition project, we seek knowledge from Ancient non-Western Philosophies and narratives, to better understand and enact the common denominators that can regulate our societies today. One of these trajectories we look into are the Ancient Egyptian traditions of composing “beings” based on nature’s gravitational forces: in it, the woman is symbolised by the number 4. She carries the man, and the society in general. The man is symbolised by the lower number 3 [2]. The equation hence becomes: Four + Three = Community. FourPlusThreeEqualsOne.

Today, what can we denominate as “the one”? Especially when it engenders ripples that constitute a/one common story, cultivating stories in stories when societies grow within societies, transcending histories to speculate futures, to then live with and within one another’s manifold presents.

To inform and re-form the equalizers made of the many in today’s society, we seek inspiration from our elders. Jazz composer Abdullah Ibrahim, who is known for his engagement for peace during the South African apartheid system, recently shared an anecdote about a masterclass he gave: “What is our common denominator?”, he asked 150 people. “There was not one answer […]. I realise that we are living in this abject fear of identifying ourselves. Because we always have to talk or resonate from a certain environment: family, national, or tribal environment. And the idea is: ancient tradition-new relevance. That we transcend those borders.” [3]

How can we “transcend those borders” and enact an environment of common-pluralistic-denominators today in Berlin? What are the stories told, and those yet to be told, that inform our common grounds?

Because, as humans, we are by definition moving existences, the project FourPlusThreeEqualsOne aims for a moving in regularity, in the regulation of plurality. By enacting Ancient Traditions +  New Relevance = for a Society Weighing Difference.


This project unfolds in multiple chapters, each tailored specifically to work with Berlin based PoC communities. We will also invite international voices, and experts in their field of work to travel across borders and binary thinking. We weave various formats that at times gather participants in intimate settings, and other times we meet in the performative through story with audiences to recalibrate balance systems.

Through a series of encounters, closed reading groups, stories and histories told/shared, and visiting artists we are expanding our proposal conceptually with time, adding new questions, and finding new common denominator(s). 

We will create, produce and delve into multi-format 1-hour-long radio features which will air monthly on SAVVYZAAR in Berlin 88.4 FM and 90.7FM in Potsdam, as well as online. The radio will invite people from all walks of life, including artists, philosophers, writers but also informal communities living in Berlin to think of radio as both a tool of research, but also a book of its own. Each session will transmit from Berlin and carry on the knowledge shared onto the next listener, and the next one, creating a ripple effect of transmissions and conversations. The radio program accompanies the project throughout its whole duration, and each month will visit one segment, question, chapter of our framework. 

We propose a collaboration with international and marginalized studying artists and the Berlin based universities/academies of the arts, to co-create a series of workshops by SAVVY Contemporary in the academy with the result of realizing the designing, printing, binding of the zines. With this collaboration we aim to open up Berlin based institutions for knowledges rooted in relationality.

Finally, as part of our practice, we will realize an exhibition in which we will integrate the creations of the workshops into the documentation space as part of a comprehensive project process. In addition, there will be a performative program, our INVOCATIONS, in which guests from different fields will stimulate further interactive reflections on the theme and practice of the project, with the pluricultural



Ani, Marimba: Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, 1994.


Doumbi Fakoly, Les chemins de La Maât, 2008.


Abdullah Ibrahim live at Paste Studio NYC (New York, NY) on Aug 5, 2019.