Floating Sediments on Slow Moving Waters.
Text on Textile
savvy.doc Exhibition 28.05.–14.06.2020
Open Thursday–Sunday 14:00–19:00
Entrance Please use the entrance at Gerichtstraße 35
We kindly ask you to:
/\ Wear a mask
/\ Leave your bag at the entrance
/\ Immediately wash your hands upon entry
/\ Fill out the registration form that we are obliged to keep
/\ Keep a distance of 1,5m to others in the space
/\ Wait outside if there are more than 15 people inside or the SAVVY person in charge asks you to
/\ Enjoy the company of our books & magazines
In a humble attempt to feel carefully through our current realities (intensified by the recent pandemic), we re-open the SAVVY house by spontaneously and deeply opening our archives. We invited you to spend time in our company of texts and contexts:
On temporary sediments, Bògòlanfini "mud cloths", volumes, books, publications, records lay keeping the necessary distance to the present times, these slow moving waters, marked by challenged proximity.
One meter with one and a half meter
even islands can be inhabited by one person at a time.
The books started their alluvium from the shelves,
moving in diagonals from the far end of the SAVVY space
to the center.
The cloths, as floating sediments, come from Malian land,
from fermented mud of different moving waters.
As a non-silent library, a moving display and flow of texts on textiles invite for experiencing knowledge in context, surrounded by bodies of matter, human and beyond, clouds and scents of sounds, always prepared for a conversation.
SAVVY.doc - rather a space for epistemic disobedience
The archive, library, documentation center always changing shape, and consequently size, is first of all a hosted and hosting space, as much as a guest and guesting space. Together with the actants in it, the caretakers, the bodies it hosts and is hosted by, aims to encourage and therefore to enable access to a variety of critical, often rare, counter to and beyond canons and infrequent narratives. Generating itself constantly, the archive is changed, accessed, open to the fallibility of the human factor it contains and its contained of.
SAVVY.doc practices "epistemic disobedience" , challenging known universality, which accepts its temporality as a fluid condition and not as an obsession to permanence. The items have different provenances and forms, and the decision to catalogue, keep, store, make accesible or stay ephemeral is decentralized and participatory.
Our shelves are home to a multitude of written philosophical thoughts spanning from critical theory to literature, from art magazines to political analysis in serial publications, from exhibition catalogues to poetry collections - in varying languages and scripts. One can also find: audio, video material, scores, objects as anchors to memory and various earthly methods of documentation embodied. A curiosity driven type of browsing is key to accessing the material in the space.
Through questions like: Whose story is this? Who is the owner of this past? Who is the author? SAVVY.doc unravels identity(-ies), opts for relational knowledge against obedience, and stresses the connection between micro and macro historiography. What about wearing the text and reading the textile?
Outlining the impermanence and unconditionally present performative element to it, SAVVY.doc becomes a collaborative space and an act of reflection on our present and future, rather than a tool for categorization and removal. As an archive, we stand for an entangled chronology, neither of the past or the future, yet keeping in mind the responsibility for tomorrow. 
Physically, we believe the materiality of the archive according to Achille Mbembe “[...] is proof that a life truly existed, that something actually happened, an account of which can be put together. The final destination of the archive is therefore always situated outside its own materiality, in the story that it makes possible.” 
We owe the inception and foundation stone of this documentation center – its vibrant voices, thoughts and stories – to the archive of Pius Bejeng Soh (1944-2020), anthropologist, historian, storyteller, wordsmith and rhythmanalyst.
We want to thank the students from last year's project Spinning Triangles: Ignition of a School of Design for rescuing the physical archive materials on 30.07.2019 during an unpredictably damaging flood.
Note to the visitor: We are ready to open various conversations. We aim for our radical archive to be a space where archivists, artists, researchers and objects actively interact in a performative process of keeping, storying, making accessible and becoming.
GREEN RED BLUE YELLOW
Our shelves host books coloured in dots: GREEN marks philosophical thought, theoretical essays and critical theory; RED guides poems, novels & short stories; The BLUE group exhibits catalogues; Check out YELLOW for monographs, artist books & solo shows catalogues. Although we make decisions and distinctions and come up with structures to search, tag and navigate the archive, they come as modes of activating the items. We embrace constant change and fluidity to those decisions.
Without a dot are the Special Collections, which include critical publications such as: ABBIA, Présence Africaine, Peuple Noire Peuple Africaine, Small Axe, Glendora, Chimurenga, Afrika Zamani, NAQD, Rab-Rab, Revue Noir, Casa, NKA, exhibited in the SAVVY.doc library space.
WHITE DOTS – The Berlin Archive of Alanna Lockward. After her sudden passing in 2019, her library was donated to SAVVY Contemporary. Alanna Lockward (1961–2019) was a decolonial thinker, curator, documentary filmmaker and novelist. She engaged in a number of curatorial projects on all continents: BE.BOP Black Europe Body Politics, Días Hábiles, Pares & Nones, Folding the Caribbean and was the founder of Art Labour Archives. How does the archive become the embodiment of a memory? The archive’s focus are Lockward’s Berlin years as well as her curatorial project BE.BOP Black Europe Body Politics, which was initiated at Ballhaus Naunynstraße (2012) and later realised at Volksbühne (2016) and Maxim Gorki Theatre (2018), outlines her scholarly and artistic examination of concepts such as decolonial thinking, Pan-Africanism, Black diaspora, the relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, activism, and artivism.
THE ALLAN REPORT. TRACING TRANSNATIONAL AFRICAN METHODISM
Documentary Film by Alanna Lockward
English, French, Spanish
We are extremely happy to screen the documentary film The Allan Report. Tracing Transnational African Methodism (2016) written and directed by Alanna Lockward in the framework of Floating Sediments on Slow Moving Waters. As the first Dominican-Haitian documentary co-production, this film retraces the liberation legacy of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in five different locations united by common narratives related to struggles against enslavement and apartheid. The AME Mother Bethel Church was founded by Bishop Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1794, as the first protestant church ministered exclusively by former enslaved people. It became a legally incorporated denomination in 1816. Upon the request of the Haitian government, The AME sent 6,000 individuals to the island of Saint-Domingue between 1824-1826, two decades after this first Black Republic in the world came into being. The Haitian Revolution is an integral part of the history of the AME in the island and it is also crucial to note that Richard Allen was deeply involved in the logistics of this immigration, the most important one of the XIX Century in Dominican history.
By Jasmina Al-Qaisi
Behind Shelves is one possible response to how moments can be catalogued, how performativity, as the constant friction of time and of memories can be reminded and made accessible. Audible files guide the visitor’s attention towards shelves behind which objects are placed. The starting point: these objects are left after performances, talks, lectures, public events, exhibition installations or daily moments which in appearance may be considered as disposable matter, trash. The currently displayed items are partly survivors of the serial flood in June 2019, a time when most of these objects were uncatalogued and ended up scattered and disposed of considering their unidentifiable appearance. Behind Shelves stars the invisible, the unnoticed, and remnants of the act, the practice, the event, and works towards changing meanings given to things reinvesting them back. These objects are anchors to memory, as much as mnemonic tools, and are part of the various earthly methods of documentation that SAVVY.doc is experimenting with. This archive was established through the past three years and the topic is as well central to a radio series with the same title.
For the sixth edition of Colonial Neighbour's Fragment Series, we invited artist Lizza May David to engage with our archive. The installation was first shown at Encounter #4 of the artistic exchange Postheimat at Gorki theater, and will now move to SAVVY Contemporary.
Berlin based artist Lizza May David explores the notion of representation of domestic workers. In her piece „Looking Inwards“ (2008), we experience an intimate portrait of the working and living space of a domestic helper (the artist's aunt) in Hong Kong. Filming within the interior of her employer's household including the furniture, view from the window and personal belongings, the video visualizes how power relations are interconnected with private space.
Lizza May David‘s work is set in conversation with objects from the Colonial Neighbours archive. Among them, the journal Kolonie und Heimat (1907–1920), which was published by the Frauenbund der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft (Women’s Association of German Colonial Society). It was one of the most influential organizations of the German empire that campaigned for an expansive colonialist policy. It shows clearly how race and gender constructions were established on different levels and fields of colonial policies: on the example of labor policies, education and moralities, through the discourse of hygiene, purity and health and within the field of ethnology, photography and advertisement.
This intervention is a conversation between Lizza May David‘s intimate portrait of an individual that claims space in the process of writing her own story, and the oppressive white narrative of Kolonie und Heimat that perpetually shape the place of the other. The constellation invites to reflect on colonial entanglements in regards to how we give space for other bodies‘ knowledges that are inscribed IN and ON them.
LIZZA MAY DAVID’s multidisciplinary practices involves autobiographical narratives relating to identity, memory, knowledge and its loss in a personal and collective sense. Responding and resonating to these through mark making on canvas allows her furthermore to question how ideologies run through our bodies, influencing human/nonhuman relations, materialities, and indexical affinities. David studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg and University of Arts Berlin, Germany.
Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Curatorial team Jasmina Al-Qaisi, Elena Quintarelli, Laura Kloeckner, Sagal Farah, Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, António Pedro Mendes
Text Jasmina Al-Qaisi
Communications Anna Jäger
Walter D. Mignolo: “Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom”, Theory, Culture & Society, 2009: Vol. 26 (7–8): 1–23.
“[…] the question of the archive is not, we repeat, a question of the past. […] It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow.” Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever. A Freudian Impression, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).
Achille Mbembe, The Power of the Archive and its Limits in Refiguring the Archive, (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002).