One amongst the uncommon African-born figures to head a German cultural institution, Bonaventure Ndikung is aiming to highlight put up-colonial multiculturalism at a Berlin arts centre with its roots in Western hegemony.
The “Haus der Kulturen der Welt” (Home of World Cultures), or HKW, used to be built by the People in 1956 at some stage in the Cool Battle for propaganda functions, at a time when Germany used to be nonetheless divided.
Unusual director Ndikung said it had been located “strategically” so that folk on the opposite aspect of the Berlin Wall, in the then communist East, could perchance well well also interrogate it.
This used to be “representing freedom” but “from the Western point of view”, the 46-year-old informed AFP.
Now Ndikung, born in Cameroon old to coming to think in Germany 26 years in the past, wishes to transform it precise into a draw stuffed with “various cultures of the enviornment”.
The centre, by the river Spree, is acknowledged in the community because the “pregnant oyster” as a result of its sweeping, curved roof.
It does now not catch its be pleased collections but is residence to exhibition rooms and a 1,000-seat auditorium.
It reopened in June after renovations, and Ndikung’s first challenge “Quilombismo” suits in alongside with his objectives of expanding the centre’s choices.
The exhibition takes its name from the Brazilian time duration “Quilombo”, regarding the communities formed in the 17th century by African slaves, who fled to remote aspects of the South American country.
At some stage in the summer season, there’ll furthermore be performances, concert events, movies, discussions and an exhibition of most up-to-date art from put up-colonial societies all the map via Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania.
– ‘Rethink the attach’ –
“We have got been trying to… rethink the attach. We invited artists to paint walls… even the bottom,” Ndikung said.
And segment of the “Quilombismo” exhibition will even be found glued to the bottom — African braids laced together, a image of liberation for sunless folks, which used to be created by Zimbabwean artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti.
Primarily based totally on Ndikung, African slaves on plantations in most cases plaited their hair namely strategies as a more or much less coded message to these looking for to flee, showing them which path to head.
His quest for aestheticism is mirrored in his look: with a vibrant swimsuit and headgear, apart from to mammoth rings on his fingers, he infrequently goes overlooked.
At some point of his interview with AFP, Ndikung used to be wearing a inexperienced scarf and cap, a blue-ish jacket and great, sky-blue sneakers.
With a doctorate in medical biology, he ancient to work as an engineer old to devoting himself to art.
In 2010, he based the Savvy gallery in Berlin, bringing together art from the West and in other locations, and in 2017 used to be no doubt one of many curators of Documenta, a prestigious as much as date art match in the German city of Kassel.
Cheerful of the assumption that historical past “has been written by a particular model of oldsters, mostly white and males,” Ndikung has had the total rooms in the HKW renamed after ladies folk.
These are figures who catch “done something basic in the building of the enviornment” but were “erased” from historical past, he added.
Among them is Frenchwoman Paulette Nardal, born in Martinique in 1896.
She helped inspire the introduction of the “negritude” roam, which aimed to intention sunless literary consciousness, and used to be the first sunless lady to think on the Sorbonne in Paris.
– Reassessing historical past –
Ndikung’s appointment on the HKW comes as awareness grows in Germany about its colonial past, which has long been overshadowed by the atrocities dedicated at some stage in the period of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.
Berlin has as of late started returning looted objects to African countries which it occupied in the early Twentieth century — Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia and Cameroon. “Or now not it’s long gone due,” said Ndikung.
He used to be born in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, into an anglophone family.
The country is majority francophone but furthermore residence to an anglophone minority and has faced lethal unrest in English-speaking areas, the attach armed insurgents are combating to place an fair fatherland.
One amongst his dreams is to originate a museum in Cameroon “bringing together historical and as much as date objects” from various countries, he said.
He would admire to to find it in Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s restive Northwest attach of living.
“Nonetheless there is a war in Bamenda, so I’m able to now not,” he says.