14.09.2022 Berlin Biennale 12: Workshops Reconnecting 'Objects'

Workshop in 2 parts

Location: KunstWerke

1 floor

6 - 7.30 pm

Local Practices of conservation, valorization, and transmission of knowledge through objects and cultural expressions in the Grassfields in Cameroon

The workshop presents a work in progress, in the form of a documentary film currently elaborated by Dr. Lucie Mbogni Nankeng, in collaboration with Prof. Albert Gouaffo, both University of Dschang, Cameroon.

It focuses on the endogenous modes of conservation and transmission of knowledge through objects and artistic performances. It aims to be a moment of exchange with guests and the audience. The documentary film is a first step of a research on the endogenous modes of conservation, transmission and display of knowledge through objects, art, and rituals in the chieftaincies of Cameroon. It brings together an archive of performative practices by artists or craftsmen and moments of exchange with the chiefs and patriarchs, the main holders of this knowledge. Combining performances, scripting, and ritual gestures, it focuses on practices which participate in the transmission of cultural and spiritual knowledge beyond museums in the Western sense of the term. This workshop aims to stimulate new perspectives and a co-constructive dynamic.

French with English translation

8 – 10 pm

SONIC ECHOES is a curated mash up, remix, jam session in an attempt to respond to sound archives and sonicities incarcerated in colonial containments, to invoke and unleash their fire. Rather than recuperating cohesive sound lineages or inheritance we want to create practices of refusing genre to understand the intersections of these archived sonicities. How do they communicate with other museum ‘subjects’? Do they stay in tune? How can they regain sonic life? We want to explore collective and intuitive methods of critical archiving to unwind and break free from perpetuating fossilised violences. We are honoured to host Zimbabwe’s queen of Mbira music Stella Chiweshe, Cameroonian sound artist, musician and performer Elsa M’bala and UK-based Kenyan sound artist and electronic musician Charles Nyiha. Interweaving sonic fragments with conversational elements the workshop and jam session shall critically engage, remix and perform the Archive, stimulating sonic waves to transcend and refuse containments, walls, borders.

Curated by Lennon Mhishi, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Laura Kloeckner, in the frame of Reconnecting ‘Objects’ and SAVVY: Colonial Neighbors

In English

Stella Rambisai Chiweshe

Her Majesty - The Queen of Mbira music from Zimbabwe - like Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is affectionately called, is the first female artist who gained in prestige and has been honoured with recognition in a music tradition that's been dominated by men: in Mbira music - known as the backbone of Zimbabwean music. The mbira consists of 22 to 28 metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard and is usually placed inside a gourd resonator (deze). The keys are played with the two thumbs plucking down and the right forefinger plucking up.

She is one of the few musicians in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, who since more than 40 years is working in the role of traditional Mbira musician. She is a well respected and important woman in the music business too, where bands perform at festivals, in theatres, churches, schools, community halls as well as in families homes for their ancestors. She set an example for the rest of the women musicians in Zimbabwe. She is a professional artist, in the entertainment industry and the international music circuit. In Zimbabwe, she released more than 20 singles of Mbira music of which her first single Kasahwa went gold in 1975. After Independence, she was invited to become a member of the original National Dance Company of Zimbabwe, where she soon took the part of a leading Mbira Solo player, dancer, and actress. Her Solo work has established herself as one of the most original artists in the contemporary African scene using mbira music to show the depth and power of her traditional spiritual music at home and abroad.

Chiweshe's experience has been stimulating her to introduce Mbira music to the occidental context without losing the relation to her Zimbabwean tradition. Since then she has won several awards in her country. In 2003 the University of Zimbabwe honoured her with the Master's Degree in Arts.

Stella Chiweshe started to perform solo in ceremonies around Zimbabwe in the early 1970es.

Elsa M'bala

Elsa M'bala was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Her family moved to South-West Germany, where M'bala visited an international school and learned to express herself in various languages. In 2009 M'bala co-created the Pan-African feminist poetry duo „Rising Thoughts". From 2012 to 2016 she moves back to Cameroon where she developed a new artistic language, between visual and sonic explorations. Her current work uses voices and online samples in the form of transcoding, code switching and algorithms patterns, building a fine print of electronic griotage reaching from the past into the future. Mixing analogue and digital sound machines as well as electronic and acoustic instruments to experiment with speeches, rituals and poetry. Elsa M’bala work Addis’63 is a sound performance that explore the complexities and dualities of life, always torn between the aim to balance the inner with the outer world, the spiritual quest for identity. Using the total submergence of electronic sound and the rhythmical properties of Ekang/Bikutsi rhythms of the Beti people of central Africa to help us reconnect with the mythological, the spiritual and the imaginary. As the philosopher Mudibe said, Africa is an invention, for that matter Africans have to (re-)invent themselves.

Elsa M'bala performed her writings and music at various events throughout Europe and the African continent. From Centre d'art contemporain de Bretigny, Bandjoun Station (CMR), Engagement global (DE), Aperture Magazine (USA), Contemporary And (C&); (DE), New Art Exchange Nottingham (E), Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa);(DE), Goethe Institut Kamerun, Centre Culturel Francais du Cameroun, Alte Oper Frankfurt, KW Berlin, heroines of sound festival Berlin, Augmented reality festival Darmstadt , She is one of the incubators Winners for Berlin Community Radio 2017 and had a regular radio show on the platform before it closed in 2019. She is currently in a residency at Ker Thiossane in Dakar, Senegal.

Charles Nyiha

Charles Nyiha is a UK based visual artist and electronic musician, exploring the intersections of mathematics, physics, computation and spirituality. He works primarily with procedural systems, investigating their potential to help him transcend his human limitations and approach a higher state of being.