Probe zu "Vinyago. Tanz jenseits kolonialer Biografien"
© Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss: Foto/ Stefanie Loos

VINYAGO combines exhibition, dance, music and video art to create a space-filling installation. The focus is on artists from Tanzania in dialogue with East African masks from the collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin. The majority of the collection dates back to the time of German colonialism (1885-1918). The masks were originally used in a spiritual, performative context. Today, as part of collections, they eke out an existence in silence, darkness and clinical cleanliness.

The starting point for the project was an intensive examination of the culture of masks, colonialism and coloniality as well as museum practice in Tanzania and Germany. The artistic director conducted numerous interviews and intensive research in Tanzania and Germany, which was shared with the dancers and musicians and can be experienced in the exhibition in the form of statements. From the beginning, the artists wanted to use masks from the collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin in the performance. This is in contrast to the museum’s concept of conservation. The installation is the result of a compromise in which five of these masks from the collection are exhibited in showcases. They are in tension with 24 contemporary masks made especially for Vinyago by Bernard Piusi, a respected Makonde carver in the south of Dar es Salaam. His source of inspiration was the historical catalogue “East African Sculpture” from 1990, which is reproduced and can be viewed in the exhibition.

In a total of 13 performances, 13 dancers and musicians from Tanzania dealt with the gaze of visitors and spectators, which can reproduce colonial logics. In this mirrored and refracted gaze, the mask, as a mere object in its material composition, transforms into a subject and symbol for all that for which there is no space in the conventional museum – movement, change and life.

You can get an impression of these performances until 8 January: Contemporary and historical masks can be experienced both as an exhibition and in a 75-minute video of the performance. Witness the development of the project, the engagement with the Humboldt Forum and the collections of the Ethnological Museum. The exhibition documents the trace of a collective memory work in which diverse voices from Tanzania and Germany become audible and visible and counter colonial narratives.

The exhibition can be experienced during regular opening hours with free admission. Headphones are available at the entrance in the foyer.