how does the world breathe now? | Wednesdays


El Usman Faroqhi Here and a Yonder: On Finding Poise in Disorientation | Sep 14 - Oct 21, 2017


THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery

FILM SERIES: how does the world breathe now?

Session N°35: Bicycles of Nhanderú and The Spirit of the Navajo presented by Filipa César

September 20, 2017 | 7 PM

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Free entrance - donations welcome

< how does the world breathe now?> is a 52 week film series at SAVVY Contemporary inviting artists, thinkers, activists, poets, scientists, curators and other practitioners to select movies of our nows.

For our 35th screening, Filipa César brings us two short films examining the power of cinema to enable indigenous communities to create their own representations of themselves and their worlds.

The Spirit of the Navajo by Mary J. and Maxine Tsosie (Navajo), 1966, 21 min, 16mm, silent. Mary Jane and Maxine Tsosie, both Navajo, follow the healing ritual of a medicine man (their grandfather Sam Yazzie) from gathering wild herbs and roots, to "painting" sand mandalas to treating patients.

Bicycles of Nhanderú, by Ariel Duarte Ortega and Patricia Ferreira (Mbya-Guaraní), 2011, 48 min, digital, Guaraní with English subtitles. An immersion in spirituality and everyday life of the Mbya­?Guaraní from the Koenju village, in southern Brazil.

Filipa César communicates her interest in these films as follows:

In 1966, anthropologists Sol Worth, John Adair and Richard Chalfen traveled to Pine Springs, Arizona, to teach a group of Navajo students the techniques of cinema. The resulting films make up the series Navajos Film Themselves. In 1986 in Brazil, anthropologists and documentarists Vincent Carelli and Virgínia Valadão, initiated Video nas Aldeias, a project to promote the production of moving images by members of threatened indigenous Amazonia communities.

Both projects and their resulting films respond to the troubles convoked by visual anthropologists with the gesture of rendering the studied communities into image. Specifically, as related to non-industrialised communities, which have little access to neither the technologies nor a culture of moving images. Dennis Hopper’s exercise “The Last Movie” (1971) denounced cinema as a colonizing language that once met with other code system can backfire and become a cursed floating signifier. On the other hand, Elizabeth Povinelli and the Karrabing Film Collective have developed a unique cinematic language to address their condition under contemporary colonialism. Yet, in the present time of the hyper-imaging of the globalized world, what does it mean to provide indigenous peoples with the technical means with which to produce their own representations of themselves and their imaginaries? Can we use the term “one’s own image”? Can those images become evidence against threatening colonization? Who and what is empowered? Can cinema be a means of achieving justice? What opacities interfere or are destroyed? Who and what is erased within this gesture of increased visibility?

For this screening, I have selected two films, “The Spirit of the Navajo,” 1966 by Mary Jane and Maxine Tsosie from the series Navajo Film Themselves and “Bicycles of Nhanderú,” 2011, by Ariel Duarte Ortega and Patricia Ferreira created through the Video nas Aldeias Project. I invite you to this screening and look forward to your engagement in the subsequent discussion.

Thanks to: Vincent Carelli, Video nas Aldeias team, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Markus Ruff, Juan González, Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art, Pia Chakraverti-Wuerthwein and the SAVVY Contemporary team.

Filipa César is an artist and filmmaker interested in the fictional aspects of the documentary, the porous borders between cinema and its reception, and the politics and poetics inherent to moving image. Since 2011, she has been looking into the origins of the cinema of the African Liberation Movement in Guinea Bissau as a laboratory of resistance to ruling epistemologies. César premiered her first feature length essay-film Spell Reel at the Forum section of the 67. Berlinale, 2017. Selected exhibitions and screenings have taken place at: 29th São Paulo Biennial, 2010; Manifesta 8, Cartagena, 2010; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2011–15; Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2012; Khiasma, Paris, 2011–2015; Kunstwerke, Berlin, 2013; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin 2014–15; Tensta konsthall, Spånga, 2015; Mumok, Vienna, 2016; Contour 8 Biennial, Mechelen and Gasworks, London; MoMA, New York, 2017.


El Usman Faroqhi Here and a Yonder: On Finding Poise in Disorientation

A Project in the Framework of the Harun Farocki Retrospective

OPENING | September 13, 2107 | 6 PM

OPENING HOURS | September 14 - October 21, 2017 | THUR-SUN 2-7 PM

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Free entrance - donations welcome

(c) Harun Farocki / Courtesy Antje Ehmann


With: Candice Breitz, Ariani Darmawan, Fehras Publishing Practices, Shilpa Gupta, Samson Kambalu, Olaf Nicolai, Ho Tzu Nyen, Michael Zheng & performance collaborator Johanna Thompson

OPENING | September 13, 2107 | 6 PM with a performance by Michael Zheng in collaboration with Johanna Thompson

Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew; to what one possessed or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free - he has set himself free - for higher dreams, for greater privileges. -- James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name, 1961

It is said that there is much in a name.

That there is much in naming.

If we were to leave the historical and religious etymologies and connotations aside, names still tend to carry their weight in gold, as they open and close doors within certain societies. In recent years, there has been much outcry about selectivity for example for job interviews and otherwise, based rather on the names applicants bear, than their competencies. In her 2015 NY Times article 'Appreciate the History of Names to Root out Stigma,' Morgan Jerkins elaborates on the discrimination tendencies in hiring in the USA, whereby résumés with names that sounded African-American were 50 percent less likely to be invited for job interviews than identical résumés carrying names that sound like ‘white names.’ Essentially, it is a narrative about racialization through naming, whereby ‘unusually’ sounding names lead to bias. Interestingly, it seems as if names do not only reveal race, but also betray class, and of course gender. This phenomenon is everything but new, as people have always been profiled as ‘the other’ whenever they bore the names Mohammed, Shaniq, Shimon, or otherwise.

It is said that there is much in a name.

That there is much in naming.

Harun Farocki (1944 - 2014) is indisputably until this date one of Germany’s most important filmmakers and artists. Is because while he passed on and his body is no longer with us, his spirit and his works are still very much alive and preoccupy us in thought and doing. Thank heavens one can’t reduce ‘Sein/being’ to the presence or absence of bodies.

At some point in his remarkable being and career as an artist, writer, scholar, and intellectual, Harun Farocki, who was born in Neutitschein (German-annexed Czechoslovakia) and grew up in India, Indonesia and Germany, did a slight surgical operation in an effort to simplify his name. Born Harun El Usman Faroqhi, he dropped off the middle names and modified his last name in what might be considered a germanization of the name using a ‘ck’ instead of a ‘qh’ common in the German language.

The reasons for this change might have been manifold, including just making appellation easier or an effort to adapt, integrate and conform. Maybe he changed the name to avoid being classified the ‘other’ within a society in which ‘othering’ is cultivated. Maybe he changed the name to avoid being exoticized or to avoid that his person and work are seen only through a certain prism. Maybe to enjoy certain political and social amenities, while avoiding other restraints. Maybe just for aesthetic reasons. Whatever the particular reason was seems irrelevant at the moment… of importance is to deliberate on names, naming and re-naming as philosophical, as well as socio-political tools and acts.

The project El Usman Faroqhi Here and a Yonder: On Finding Poise in Disorientation is a research exhibition by SAVVY Contemporary in the framework of the Harun Farocki Retrospective in 2017. The project zooms into a detail in Farocki’s life and practice, one that may be considered a minor aspect but that plays a crucial philosophical, social and political role. One that, inspired by Harun’s own work, leads towards unexpected new relevant narratives.

The project takes Farocki as a point of departure to reflect on wider issues of nomenclature that go beyond geographical and temporal frames. For it, artists, filmmakers and intellectuals from here and from a yonder ruminate on naming as philosophy, mnemonic tool, as disorientation, on re-naming and its political and social implications. They address the performativity of language, naming and its role in warfare and in pornography. They revisit, question or challenge Farocki's positions and offer new ways of seeing, and experiencing, his oeuvre.


Curated by Bonaventure S. B. Ndikung and Antonia Alampi

Project Manager: Lema Sikod

Assistant Curator: Cornelia Knoll

Research Assistant: Gwen Mitchell

The Harun Farocki Retrospective is organized by Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) in cooperation with Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, the Harun Farocki Institute, Harun Farocki GbR, Silent Green Kulturquartier and SAVVY Contemporary.

Funded by the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.

Media partners: taz and Cargo.

A special thanks goes to Antje Ehmann for her advice and support.

FILM SERIES: how does the world breathe now?

Session N°36 | How Bodies Appear: Experimental and Documentary Film from the late 1980s GDR

September 27, 2017 | 7 PM

SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin

Free entrance - donations welcome

< how does the world breathe now?> is a 52 week film series at SAVVY Contemporary inviting artists, thinkers, activists, poets, scientists, curators and other practitioners to select movies of our nows.

For our 36th screening Elske Rosenfeld brings us “Body Building” from Wolfgang Scholz, “Veistanz/Feixtanz” from Gabriele Stötzer and Material from Thomas Heise as examples of experimental and documentary film from the GDR.

Elske Rosenfeld explains her choice of films as follows:

Body Building, 1988, 25 mins, Wolfgang Scholz (GDR) is a documentary film about a body building group, the time spent by these men torturing themselves among their self-made machines. We see them passing time in a training barrack: a rhythm of sweating bodies whose only aim is to develop larger muscles as a symbol of greater strength. Body Building was considered a capitalist sport and frowned upon in the GDR. More details under:

Veitstanz/Feixtanz, 1988, Super 8, 25 min, Gabriele Stötzer (GDR) shows a number of people/ a cast of characters from the different (non-)scenes of the late GDR – a punk, a pregnant woman, a dancer, a peacenik, an old woman, a football fan – dancing themselves into a trance in a setting chosen by each of them – on the sidewalk, on the roof-tops, by the river, on a playground, in front of a ruin, in the East German city of Erfurt – against a soundtrack of trams and passers-by.

Material (excerpts), 2009, Thomas Heise (GDR/D) is, to my mind, the best and most comprehensive document of the revolution of 1989/90 in the GDR. Whether he films from the margins or from right at the heart of revolutionary events – a political assembly of wardens and prisoners in a Brandenburg jail, a rally outside the Socialist Party HQ in Berlin, a townhall-meeting in a Berlin suburb – Heise’s images convey the radical urgency of the events that have been obscured and neutralised in their historization as “the Fall of the Berlin Wall”. It is telling, too, that it took the film-maker 20 years to revisit his previously unpublished footage.

In each of these films, bodies appear as agents and subjects of the specific forms of the Political in the late GDR and in the revolution of 1989. My motivation for showing this selection is two-fold: Firstly, to invite you into a conversation around the body as a site and archive of political events whose experience exceeds the tropes of narrativization in which they come to be historized and closed down.

Secondly, to share an impression of the state-socialist histories that have left so few traces on the physical and immaterial landscapes of present day Berlin and its various, increasingly transient cultural scenes.

Elske Rosenfeld (born 1974 in Halle/Saale, GDR) uses different textual and artistic formats to look at the relationship between specific historical, as well as contemporary scenarios of political upheaval, and their potential for affecting political change. Her ongoing project “A Vocabulary of Revolutionary Gestures” focuses on the bodily, gestural content of archival footage from situations of revolution or protest, to develop abstracted interventions into and around these materials. Her work has been shown internationally in group and solo presentations, among others at Herbstsalon III, Gorki Theater, (upcoming) Berlin 2017; ngbk, Berlin, 2016; mumok kino, Vienna, 2016 and 2013; Rencontres Internationales 2016 Paris and Berlin; Steirischer Herbst 2015, Graz; Berlin Art Week/Scriptings 2014; District, Berlin, 2014; tranzit, Cluj, Romania, 2013; Devi Art Foundation, Delhi, 2013. She has taken part in international residencies, such as the Visual Arts residency program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. Her texts have been published in/on, Springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst, Feminist Media Studies, Reviews in Cultural Theory, and a number of other books and journals. Rosenfeld lives and works in Berlin.


THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery

We have the pleasure of presenting you our new SAVVY Contemporary publication: THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE. On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery edited by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Federica Bueti. The book is designed by Elsa Westreicher and published by THE GREEN BOX.

How do 'witchery' phenomena and practices manifest within cultural, economical, political, religious and scientific spaces in Africa and beyond? This publication is a compendium to the eponymous exhibition project and public programme curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Elena Agudio at SAVVY Contemporary, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut South Africa in the framework of the project African Futures. Through an exhibition and a series of invocations, the project considered 'witchery' as an epistemological space and a medium of continuities between the African continent and its Diaspora. The publication includes essays by Erna Brodber, Seloua Luste Boulbina, Vladimir Lucien, Percy Mabandu, and Greg Tate a.o, and visual contributions by artists Georges Adéagbo, Haris Epaminonda, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Emeka Ogboh, Priscilla Rezende and Minnette Vari a.o.


312 pages, 34 illustrations, English / German

ISBN 978-3-941644-95-3

EUR 19,00

This publication has been generously supported by Goethe-Institut South Africa via TURN Fund der Kulturstiftung des Bundes.