|16 years and older|
|Wechselausstellungsfläche 31/32, 2. OG|
With works by
Imad Alfil, Bar Esh, Paulin Fichtner & Conrad Kunze, Quang Vinh Giang, Mohamad Halbouni & Aline Suter, Melis Kiran, Hami Mehr, Jasmin Sermonet, Inyeong Song, Raras Umaratih, Jelisa Weber
Engaging with these questions, new artworks in a variety of media and formats including performance, installation, print, sculpture, painting, video and VR find their way into the ethnological museum. MINGLED LIVING FORCES, the title of the intervention, is a quote from Suzanne Césaire’s DISCONTENT OF A CIVILIZATION where she makes an urgent call to engender a new future. It is as an homage to her teachings that this intervention follows her text, which is both an analytical study of a present/past and a poetic assertion for the possibility of something new. MINGLED LIVING FORCES also refers to our coming together during these last months: a coming together of different peoples, coming together with texts, coming together with the inhabitants of the museum. It is the mingling of these forces that we are invoking.
Beyond this summoning, this intervention has several conceptual entry points: it investigates the museum’s raison d’être by engaging artistically with what it means to collect and to exhibit within a framework of domination; it approaches the museum’s perpetuation of colonial violences through material and sound interventions; and through spatial drawing, it engages with artistic speculations as a means to inhabit a future museum once beings and material culture are returned.
The intervention presents these artistic works in an already inhabited space, entering into dialogue with the materials and documents exhibited in Leerstellen.Ausstellen – a temporary exhibition within the ethnological museum, whose concerns and approach to colonial history we believe should be made permanent. The superimposition of MINGLED LIVING FORCES and Leerstellen.Ausstellen, with their meeting and collision points, is ultimately an experiment in spatial dialogue among objects, bodies, and exhibition practices.
MINGLED LIVING FORCES was developed in the context of the tandem seminars Colonial Presents: Artistic and Curatorial Interrogating and Zeichnen Farbe Fläche – Spatial Drawing at the weißensee school of art and design berlin during the Winter Semester 22 /23.
Curatorial development & Teaching
Juana Awad, Elaine Bonavia
Bar Esh, Raras Umaratih
Imad Alfil was born in Syria in 1990 and has lived in Germany since 2015. He is currently studying painting in the Department of Fine Arts at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin. In his work, he explores emotionality and intuition as a way to access the human psyche.
Bar Esh explores notions of public memory and commemorative culture through the use of textiles, texts, and concrete, challenging prevailing concepts of aesthetics. She studies textile and surface design at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin and works as a political educator in Berlin schools.
Paulin Fichtner uses artistic means to address social and political issues and observes the unspoken, adapting her choice of artistic medium to the subject and life situation. In recent years, Fichtner has focused primarily on drawing while studying fine arts at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin.
Quang Vinh Giang works mainly with the medium of sculpture. He is currently experimenting with ambiguities and concepts of meaning-making, exploring 3D digital technology and the hybridization of analog and digital media to find new formal possibilities. Giang also works with children and leads workshops on artistic creation.
Mohamad Halbouni is a visual artist working in performance, photography, installation, video games and short comics. He studied fine arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University and is currently studying at weißensee kunsthochschule berlin. Halbouni’s work focuses on conflicts, contradictions and cultural identities, playing with and dismantling stereotypes of the Middle East.
Melis Kiran studies textile and surface design at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin.
Conrad Kunze is a historian and sociologist. In his book “Deutschland als Autobahn,” he explores the highs and lows of the 20th century. He is a lecturer at the Otto Suhr Institute of the Free University of Berlin and teaches, among other things, imperialism theory. He is an active member of the VVN-BdA (Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes/Bund der Antifaschisten und Antifaschistinnen Berlin e. V.).
Hami Mehr is a Berlin-based anti-disciplinary artist from Tehran. Her focus is on body politics and decolonizing the narrative of body, mind and culture.
Jasmin Sermonet is completing her master’s degree in textile and surface design at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin. Her focus is on living textiles and fancy yarns.
Inyeong Song is a material and surface designer working with analog and digital technologies. Her work is connected to a variety of traditional crafts and graphic works.
Aline Suter studies costume and stage design at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin. In her work, she is primarily concerned with questions of justice in its social, political and ecological forms. Experimenting with theater collectives and non-hierarchical working methods, she seeks ways to shake up Western traditions, narratives, and power structures that underlie most of today’s global injustices.
Raras Umaratih: “In my artistic practice, there are things I can only do alone and only with others. Times when the distance created by aesthetics is a welcome moment to reflect, and times when that distance makes no sense.”
Jelisa Weber was born and raised in Munich, right next door to her family’s stonemasonry business. Her closeness to materials and crafts led her to textiles and their techniques. While studying textile and surface design at weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, she discovered her fascination for systems, their rules and logics. Since then, her main focus is to deal with the logics of behaviors by means of programming.
Department of Theory and History – weißensee school of art and design
Led by Juana Awad
How to engage as artists with an ethnographic museum within a reconstructed imperial palace in the 21st century? A decolonial approach does not look to ameliorate a current state of affairs, rather, it questions the museum’s raison d’être, investigating the its role in the construction and export of racist knowledge regimes, and it responds with ideas for possible futures. Reading and reflecting on authors including Suzanne Césaire, Aimé Césaire, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Franz Fanon, María Lugones, Nelson Maldonado Torres, Walter Mignolo, Aníbal Quijano, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, as well as through encounters with invited scholars and artists, this course served as a basis for the development of individual and collaborative pieces engaging with the paradox of artistic creation within colonial institutions. It is this paradox, which leads to the visibility or invisibility of the works, with some appearing inside Leerstellen.Ausstellen, some being installed outside of the building, and some not appearing at all.
Department of Textil und Flächendesign – weißensee school of art and design
Led by Elaine Bonavia
While for centuries, drawings have been constrained to a two-dimensional surface, contemporary technologies allow us to re-think this process and take a step into the digital world with our bodies, blurring the boundaries between line and space. How do lines create spaces? What kind of space does an object drawn by the body hold? And what can embodied digital objects say? These questions were present throughout the course and served as a basis for exploring objects in colonial collections through spatial drawing. Through a close encounter with the process itself and the slight awkwardness it brings, a series of documented drawing sessions were held in the museum. With this experience, animated video works and 3D printed objects which speculate on possible narratives for a future museum scenario were then created and embedded into the existing space.
 See Césaire, Suzanne. “Discontent of a Civilization”, trans. Penelope Rosemont, in Surrealist Women: An International Anthology, ed. Penelope Rosemont, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998, pp 129-133. In this anthology Suzanne Césaire is described by Rosemont as “[o]ne of surrealism’s most brilliant and daringly original theorists” (p. 126) who along Cunard “developed surrealism’s critique of racism” (p. l) and deserves a large share of the credit [among other writers] for precipitating some of the major developments in surrealism in the forties” p. 123