THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin

THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE is a project by SAVVY Contemporary and the Goethe Institute South Africa, which 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.

Curator: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung; Co-curator: Elena Agudio
Curator performance programme: Nathalie Mba Bikoro

Exhibition: 4 June – 7 August, 2016, Thursdays–Sundays 2–7pm
Artists: Georges Adéagbo, Atis Rezistans, 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 and Minnette Vári

Invocations: 9–12 June, 2016
Speakers & performers: Nora Adwan, Ayodele Arigbabu, The Bakol, Christian Botale Molebo, Erna Brodber, Shirin Fahimi, Sasha Huber and Petri Saarikko, David Guy Kono, Vladimir Lucien, Percy Mabandu, Olivier Marboeuf, Carlos Martiel, Achille Mbembe, Molemo Moiloa, Leda Martens, Katrien Pype, Greg Tate, Angela Wachuka, Wanda Wyporska, Jason Young

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.

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 that 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 (To Have Done With the Judgment of God) serves here as a metaphor of “witchery” as refute, rebellion, queering against religions and as power adjudications framed within colonial enterprises.
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, 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. Three interdisciplinary festivals in Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi 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 with SAVVY Contemporary.

SAVVY Contemporary – Plantagenstraße 31 13347 Berlin
Opening Friday 3 June 2016, 7pm

Performances by Ayrson Heraclito, Priscila Rezende and Buhlebezwe Siwani, and  African Futures book launch: 7–10pm
DJ-sets by Spoek Mathambo and Mo Lateef: 10:30pm