The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse

4 Jun 2016 – 7 Aug 2016

Regular hours

14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00

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SAVVY Contemporary

Berlin, Germany

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On Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery. A project by SAVVY Contemporary and the Goethe-Institut South Africa.


The moth that enters your house at night is a grudge that somebody is holding against you. It half-sits, bothered by your light and the roof over your head. It spreads its small evening wherever it lands, over the things you love most. A dark tent of dark intentions.

Vladimir Lucien, 'The Belief in Obeah'

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.

Inadequately stressed are the aspects of witchcraft that emphasize interdependence and conviviality without obfuscating the individual or collective aspirations to dream, fantasize and explore new dimensions of being. A closer look at the everyday discourses and practices of Cameroonians suggests that witchcraft is about much more than just the dark side of humanity. As a multidimensional phenomenon, witchcraft is best studied as a process in which violent destruction and death are rare and extreme exceptions, employed mostly when all attempts at negotiating conviviality between the familiar and the undomesticated have been exhausted. Francis B. Nyamnjoh, 2005

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 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 serves here as a metaphor of ‘witchery’ as refute, rebellion, queering against a religious and power adjudication as framed within colonial enterprises, and on the other hand ‘witchery’ as an epitome of and a consent to multiplicity of gods, deities or other supreme beings.

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 is 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

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