Philipp Lachenmann: DELPHI Rationale


Giving Contours to Shadows

30.04.2014, Berlin | The exhibition and research project Giving Contours To Shadows explores how artists and theoreticians relate to their contemporary contexts in their treatment of Western historical narratives and the formulation of divergent perspectives – ranging from physical representation to the possibilities of pre-writing history. An extensive group exhibition will open at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and SAVVY Contemporary at 7:00 p.m. on 23 and 24 May 2014 respectively, accompanied by a series of events which includes a multi-day program of performances at the Maxim Gorki Theater and Gemäldegalerie in Berlin; a roundtable discussion; and satellite projects in Marrakech, Nairobi, Dakar, Lagos, and Johannesburg.

Lerato Shadi, Matsogo, 2013, 5:00 Min., HD-Video (Videostill)

Mounir Fatmi, History is not Mine, 2013, 5:00 Min., HD-Video (Videostill)

Inspired by philosopher Édouard Glissant's challenge to free history from its confinement as a “functional fantasy of the West” rather than leaving it to the designs of historians, Giving Contours To Shadows explores alternative concepts of history in art and theory. The project establishes a space for the exploration of myriad theories and discourses which look beyond Western perspectives of history, creating new contemporary narrative structures, and overcoming colonial and post-colonial discourse. The exhibition and program are organized across five interlinking themes: Performing and Embodying Histories, Wandering through Histories, Unthinking the Chimera, Sequestrating History and Pre-writing Histories. The roundtable program will address discussions on the ideology of space, performativity and archival practice, and the notion of pre-writing history.

Giving Contours to Shadows is curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung in collaboration with Elena Agudio and Storm Janse van Rensburg, who have invited artists working in the visual and performing arts to produce new works for the exhibition to be shown in Berlin and at five leading African cultural institutions. The Ernst Schering Foundation has chosen to sponsor this artistic research project in light of its capacity to reflect upon the global import of other bodies of cultural knowledge through the lens of the ‘wordless’ historical narratives that are expressed in art.

Giving Contours To Shadows

Exhibition: 24 May – 27 July 2014

The complete program of events is available as a downloadable PDF here.

First Opening: Friday, 23 May 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
Chausseestr. 128/129
10115 Berlin
Statements by the exhibition’s curators and von Njami (curator and art critic, Paris)
Performance: Lerato Shadi, Mosako wa nako
Performance: Mwangi Hutter, Drastic

A press tour of the exhibition will be held on 23 May at 5:00 p.m. at the Neuen Berliner Kunstverein with the curators and selected artists in attendance.

Second Opening: Saturday, 24 May 2014
6:00 p.m.: Jelili Atiku, Alaagba, performance walk from Richardplatz to SAVVY Contemporary
7:00 p.m.: SAVVY Contemporary – Richardstr. 20, 12043 Berlin

Publishers Walther König (Cologne) will publish a volume in the n.b.k. “Diskurs” series with contributions in German and English by Elena Agudio, Marius Babias, Alexander Farenholtz, Premesh Lalu, Heike Catherina Mertens, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Simon Njami, Tavia Nyong'o, Sarah Rifky, Storm Janse van Rensburg, and Hortensia Völckers. The exhibition is accompanied by a pamphlet with brief texts about the participating artists.

For more information about the project and program, please visit the project blog,

Giving Contours To Shadows is sponsored by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the Ernst Schering Foundation.

For more press information and images, please log in below on the website under ‘Press’ (Username: Press conference / Password: n.b.k.2014)
For all other inquiries, please contact Silke Wittig: +49 (0)30 280 70 20 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Lerato Shadi, Matsogo, 2013, 5:00 Min., HD-Video (video still image)
Mounir Fatmi, History is not Mine, 2013, 5:00 Min., HD-Video (video still image)


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