Radical Mutation: On the Ruins of Rising Suns

  • Festival

Curated by Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Saskia Köbschall, Tmnit Zere, in collaboration with Wearebornfree! Empowerment Radio


Guest curators Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Saskia Köbschalland Tmnit Zere conceive the opening programme in this new space in HAU1. “Radical Mutation” forges bridges between historical struggles for equality, anti-racism and representation in culture and current efforts for radical change. Berlin is the starting point for tracing these histories and their legacies. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and current struggles against structural inequalities, the programme envisions cultural realities that deeply reflect our complexities and become spaces for alliances, recovery and healing.

This is what the guest curators say about their work at HAU1:

“The programme ‘Radical Mutation: On the Ruins of Rising Suns’ forges bridges between historical struggles for equality, anti-racism and representation in arts/culture and current efforts for radical change in cultural spaces. The city of Berlin is the starting point for tracing these histories and their legacies, which lead us from Douala to Neukölln, from Tiergarten to Harlem and beyond. The title of the programme references one of the first recorded Black theatre revues produced in Germany (‘Sunrise in Morning Land’, 1930) staged at a popular working class ballroom in Neukölln, which challenged the portrayal of Black people in cultural productions of the Weimar Republic. ‘Radical Mutation’ symbolically attends ‘Sunrise in Morning Land’’s performance, strolls through Berlin’s Tiergarten with Alain Locke and Claude McKay in the 1920s, who later shaped the Harlem Renaissance movement, discusses culture and politics with actress Rasha (portrayed in Schad’s painting ‘Agosta the Winged Man and Rasha the Black Dove’, 1929) in her circus caravan on Leopoldplatz and listens in on May Ayim and Audre Lourde’s conversations on poetry and the anti-racist struggle. ‘Radical Mutation’ commemorates these endeavours, traces their erasure and shifts them to a historical theatre space built in 1908 (the Hebbel-Theater, HAU1). In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and current struggles against racism and structural and environmental inequalities, the programme becomes a caesura. It envisions cultural realities that deeply reflect our complexities and become spaces for alliances, recovery and healing.”  – Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro, Saskia Köbschall and Tmnit Zere

For the mutation of HAU1, HAU has sought accomplices: Prof. Janina Audick’s UdK class of stage design – Anneke Frank, Paula Meuthen, Helena Schaber, Olivia Schrøder, Yaming Wang / artistic project management: Daniela Zorrozua / Janina Audick – redesigns it into a hybrid space that oscillates the boundaries between stage and audience, between culture and nature. The theater becomes an antibody.
Radioprogramme in collaboration with Wearebornfree! Empowerment Radio
23.9. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #1

Lecture: Robbie Aitken Audio Lecture (English)
Robbie Aitken joined Sheffield Hallam University as a Senior Lecturer in 2010. Prior he was a  Research Fellow and then a Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Liverpool, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 2002 during which he also spent time at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His research and teaching interests include the history of the Black Diaspora in Germany, European colonialism, and constructions of race in pre-1945 Europe. He has published widely on Germany’s first Black community including Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diaspora Community, 1884-1960 (with Eve Rosenhaft, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 2015). His current work looks at Black compensation claims made in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Music: Listening at Pungwe (Memory Biwa & Robert Machiri)
Listening at Pungwe – the joint project of the Namibian historian Memory Biwa and the sound artist Robert Machiri – deals with German colonial history in their radiophonic lecture performance “Dzimudzangara: A Spectral Figuration of Archival Voices”. The story is about Kingigitile ‘Bokero’ Ngwale, who, obsessed with the spirit medium Hongo, recruits fighters against the German invaders. The artists overlay vinyl recordings from several decades with songs, poems and momentary gestures into the past, and invite listeners to collectively hear and feel that which is invisible.
25.9. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #2

Conversation: Dr. Dr. Daniele G. Daude + guest (The String Archestra)
Dr. Dr. Daniele G. Daude, the founder and director of The String Archestra, discusses the histories of Black composers and their roles in liberation movements. The String archestra is a chamber, string ensemble created in 2016 in Berlin, Germany to empower musicians of color in classical music and to recognize composers who have been overlooked in music history because of their ethnicity and gender.

Music: MINCO
MINCO is a Berlin born and raised artist. Her sound is a brilliant fusion of Berlin clubbing sensibilities, a family lineage rooted in West Africa and an enlightening trip to South Africa, where she fell in love with house music. Her music incorporates intense and driving melodic house and techno with an uncontested rhythmic funk. Currently MINCO is a part of the Berlin-based Rise Collective and a resident at the highly prestigious Watergate club.
26.9. 22:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #3

Music: DJ Walta
DJ Walta is a young Gambian DJ, who is being featured and a very committed member of Wearebornfree! Music and artistic events. He regularly plays during Wearebornfree! Saturday Segment Entertainment hours. In his DJ-sets he combines different musical styles mostly modern afrobeats, reggae and dancehall music.
28.9. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #4

Conversation: Musa Okwonga & Ahmed Soura
Musa Okwonga is a British-Ugandan author, poet and musician. He studied law at Oxford University. He later wrote numerous essays and commentaries on culture, racism, gender, music, sports, politics and technology. His texts have appeared in The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, The New Statesman and The New York Times, among others. Okwonga also wrote two football books, “A Cultured Left Foot” (2007) and “Will You Manage?” (2010). In 2015 he published his first volume of poetry “Eating Roses For Dinner”.

Ahmed Soura’s solo dance piece “Spot on Me, I Can’t Breathe” reflects on the ways in which the continued history of trauma and liberation is inscribed in the movements of the Black body. Following the traces of African traditional dances in the world and their metamorphosis into f.e. Hip Hop dance moves, the performance contemplates the fight of Black people and the Black Lives Matter movement through bodily memory. Both performances of the evening are interested in ways to obfuscate the white gaze, using the spotlight (Ahmed Soura) and mirrors (Lamin Fofana) to break the dynamic of hypervisibility of the Black body in a traditionally white theatre space – to disturb the economy of looking and being looked at, spectacle and spectatorship, enjoyment and being enjoyed.

Music: Lamin Fofana
Lamin Fofana’s music performance ”You Have Confused the True and the Real“ will incorporate recently released music from the trilogy of sound works comprising the albums “Black Metamorphosis”, “Darkwater,” and “Blues” – the albums engage with seminal texts by Sylvia Wynter, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Amiri Baraka to reflect on historical and epistemological trajectories of contemporary social and political thought through the lens of Black Studies. Fofana uses music as a conduit for engaging with an array of issues involving blackness, migration, displacement, and race through collective listening and performance, and creates spaces that allow for dreaming and imagining other ways of being and foregrounding nonlinear thinking and experience.
1.10. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #5

Manmeet Kaur + Mister Colfer
Born in Kashmir and raised in Punjab, Manmeet Kaur (India’s pioneer femcee) creates and performs poetry on rhythms, voicing her hope-full social perception as a stoic explorer of sounds to materialize harmony, challenging the often ignored, self-destructive social aspirations hailing in today’s hyper-competitive digital world of materialistic human mind. Her expertise of practise lies in performing live lyrical improvisations with bands, along with rapping travelogues on swingy hip hop beats. Manmeet Kaur is currently hosted by Savvy Contemporary in Berlin for their first long- term residency, generously funded by Martin Roth Initiative.
Through her songs, Manmeet provokes a reminder of the stranded noble customs, seeking a simpler lifestyle in this modern age of rigorous industrialization. For this special gathering, “Bayer A Moment”  accumulates  her euro- centric learnings  around industrial, pharma-cultural and communal toxicity that holds a foreseeable impact on the human race at this given time of a semi strategized global health pandemic. Now how do we see a stoic light beyond the tunnels we frame around the applicability of humanity? She aims to participate in the collective act.
Joining as the yang element will be ‘Mister Colfer’. He is a multidisciplinary artist from Montpellier, France. They together form a dialogue on nutritional values behind consumption of ideas products and services in today’s time. They welcome critique and exchange of knowledge between occupational different people hence inviting the audience without any prejudice.
2.10. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #6

Conversation: Nyima Jadama, Jennifer Kamau

Shanti Suki Osman: Voicing Up, further iterations
In May 2017 Shanti Suki Osman created “Voicing Up”, a sound piece to accompany a performance lecture based on interviews carried out with black women* and women* of colour in the electronic music scene in Berlin. She loosely defined the notions of stretching, rejecting and enduring detected in strategies of space-making and negotiating marginalised positions. Around the same time she visited friends in Mumbai and Goa and recorded some of their thoughts on feminisms and survival. In “Voicing Up, further iterations”she combines the original sound piece with these recorded thoughts, creating a snapshot commentary on negotiating space from a privileged position from within the margins. In some ways, like many perspectives pre 2020, the conversation feels outdated. In other ways, it’s timeless in its repetition of the issues and concerns. The piece is to be viewed as a snapshot of lived experience and not a directive. Many thanks to Nupur and Mae.

Shanti Suki Osman is a Berlin-based artist and educator working with song, sound and radio, exploring the topics of identities, privilege, anti-racism and feminism. She is a research assistant at the Institute for Musicology and Media Studies at the Humboldt University and is doing her doctorate on the subject of Women* of Colour, music education and music academies at the Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg. She is one half of the feminist electro-pop duo Late Nights In Squat Bars with Dafne Della Dafne.

2.10. 22:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #7

“Curing Our Bodies: Black Healing through Restorative Rituals”
Conversation: Grace Ndiritu (The Year of Black Healing) & edna bonhomme

“The Year of Black Healing” is an artistic response to President Macron’s declaration that 2020 is the year of Africa in the entire French territory. In order to counterbalance the co-opting of Black Culture by politicians to promote their own agendas, Grace Ndiritu has declared that 2020 is in fact The Year of Black Healing. A year long programme of exhibitions, performances and talks in collaboration with different institutions, focusing on Ndiritu’s work and its relation to decolonization, spiritual practice, black and indigenous culture, neoliberalism and racism #georgefloyd.

edna bonhomme is a historian of science, curator, and writer whose work interrogates the archaeology of (post)colonial science, embodiment, and surveillance. A central question of her work asks: What makes people sick? She answers this question by exploring the spaces and modalities of care and toxicity that shape the possibility for repair. Using testimony and materiality, she creates sonic and counter-archives for the African diaspora in hopes that it can be used to construct diasporic futures. Her doctoral dissertation, “Plagued Bodies and Spaces,” explored the ways people in North Africa and the Middle East during the modern period perceived plagues and how they tried to escape from them. She earned her PhD in the history of science at Princeton University in 2017 and she earned a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University in 2010. bonhomme has written about racism, health, and decolonization for publications such as Africa is a Country, Aljazeera, Analyis und Kritik, The Baffler, Mada Masr, The Nation Magazine, and more. She co-created “Decolonization in Action,” a podcast series that explores the ways that decoloniality is understood and put into practice by artists, researchers, and activists.

4.10. 17:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #8

Audio Reading: Armeghan Taheri: What’s Afghan Punk Anyway?
Armeghan Taheri is an Afghan-German writer, public speaker, co-founder of the NOMEN Collective and founder of the Magazine “What’s Afghan Punk Rock, anyway?”, an annual magazine available in print and digital format, bringing together global stories from Afghan narrators founded in late 2018. With an LL.M. from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, she previously worked on research on intersectionality to adjudicate gender violence. In her artistic practice she uses storytelling to provide critical analysis to dissect social and political realities.

Music: Nguyễn + Transitory “Sound Postcard for Radical Mutation”
When an industry thrives on superficialities such as discovering and presenting only “new” things, and those that fit into what is marked as trending, then it would come as little surprise that its championing of progressive politics might be nothing more than posturing. Because until we have more underrepresented, under-privileged, subaltern, under-class folks in decision-making positions in the arts and elsewhere, and until the cultural institutions themselves unsubscribe from the logics of capitalism and patriarchy, the cultural landscape will not be fundamentally altered.

Nguyễn + Transitory
For “Radical Mutation”, Nguyễn + Transitory will create a sound postcard performed with their installation Topography of Vulnerabilities #2 – 2 Musicians having a conversation with Two Plants, a Nagra and an Oscillator on how do we continue to function and exist in conditions that are contributing to our extinction.
Nguyễn + Transitory is composed of Nguyễn Baly and Tara Transitory. Their work crosses the disciplines of sound, performance, and installation.  Working mainly with modular synthesizers and analog tape, they attempt to approach sound, synthesis, noise, rhythm and performance from a less colonial lens – looking into how frequencies, the physicality of producing sounds and its incidental vibrations relate to cognitive memories, stored emotions and catharsis.  Their practice involves as well efforts to empirically learn more about various Southeast Asian + diaspora queer existences and lost histories.  Besides their artistic practice, they founded and run Queer Ear Mastering.
4.10. 22:00 Radical Mutation − Radio Session #9

Conversation: ZOE & Georgina Leo Saint Laurent
ZOE works as a freelance artist, dancer, musician and choreographer with a focus on queer-feminist and inclusive work. She is a former member of the “House of Melody” which was originally founded as the first German House and was a leading force for Ballroom/Vogue culture within Germany. For the conversation she will be joined by guests discussing ballroom culture in Germany.

Georgina aka European Mother Leo Saint Laurent graduated with a bachelor of performing Arts from the Fontys Dance Academy in Tilburg (Netherlands) in 2008 and since then has been working successfully as a freelance Performer and Choreographer in the European Dance & Entertainment Industry. She is known as the pioneer of Ballroom in Germany, the founder of the organization Berlin Voguing Out (2011–2016) and the Mother of the first German House – the House of Melody (2012–2019). Through steady work and community building in the last 7 years Mother Leo & the House have made their mark as the leading force for Ballroom/Vogue culture within Germany, visible through a growing artistic and self-expressive community from NRW, to Hamburg to Berlin. Since July 2019 the House of Melody has transformed and joined forces with the Iconic House of Saint Laurent (founded 1982 in NYC), representing the European Chapter under the leadership of European Mother Georgina Leo Saint Laurent. In the name of this Iconic House the collective will continue their work within Ballroom, focusing on exchange with the international Ballroom Scene to provide authenticity and understanding for the complex structures of this culture.