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HOW TO TAME GHOSTS...


HOW TO TAME GHOSTS... Mudi Yahaya | Halida Boughriet

A project conceived by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Savvy Contemporary) and Marc-André Schmachtel (Goethe Institut Lagos) Curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung co-curator Giusy Sanna An exhibition by SAVVY Contemporary Richardstr. 43/44, 12055 Berlin-Neukölln Opening of the exhibition: 9th June 2012, 7 pm Exhibition opening hours: 10th of June 2012 – 30th of June 2012, thursday – saturday 4 – 8 pm


INDEX 5 BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG How to Tame Ghosts... 8 TAM FIOFORI Mudi’s visual scope 15

MUDI YAHAYA For Crown + Country An Exploration Into Memory And Fiction

18 21

MARC-ANDRÉ SCHMACHTEL Mudi Yahaya - How to Tame Ghosts...

28

I M P R I N T

BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG Interview with Mudi Yahaya


BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG How to tame Ghosts...


HOW TO TAME GHOSTS... „History (with a capital H) ends where the histories of those peoples once reputed to be without history come together. History is a highly functional fantasy of the West, originating at precisely that time when it alone ‘made’ the 1 history of the world. Edouard Glissant, The Quarrel with History – The Known, the Uncertain To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize “how it really was.” It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger… The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. 2 And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious. Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History

It is common knowledge that history, as concrete as it may be portrayed in history books, and the privilege to write history is one of the most prestigious chalices, earned or seized by any victor or person in power. History thus must be seen and appreciated only through the prism of he/she who wrote it, as the facts in history are usually rather subjective than objective, and the definition of the “truth” in any historical context is to be treated with some caution. In its multi-dimensionality, it is this concoction of the real/truth, the fictitious, and the untold that makes history what it is… especially as it is the case that the silent voices in history are much louder than the voices, which have found a way into our ears today. History is thus like a ghost that lingers, in undecidability, between the worlds of the living and the dead, between the darkness of night and the light of day, between the planets of truth and those of lies. Thus, to talk about history one has to research upon the shades between these aforementioned extremes. The crux of the matter is the hypothesis that this space between the extremes of a factual and non-factual history, i.e. this space occupied by untamed ghosts can most appropriately be occupied by using a medium more superior to language 3- which is art. In his Essay on the Origin of Language , Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes „But the most powerful language is the one in which all is said without a word being uttered“. 1 Edouard Glissant, The Quarrel with History – The Known, the Uncertain 2 Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History. 1940, Original German: Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974 3 Jean-Jacques Rousseau Essay on the Origin of Languages, published 1781 (Essai sur l’origine des langues)


If one were to engross thoughts on this statement, one could easily suggest that artistic expression IS the language in which all is said without necessarily uttering words. This holds true at least for the artists Halida Boughriet (FR/DZ) and Mudi Yahaya (NG) who, willingly or unwillingly, recount the past and history’s trace to the present using photography as their main utensil. Their photography stands as a voice of the unspoken or the unuttered, as they do not seek to represent “historical facts” but dare to portray an alternative historical narrative. These artists succeed in occupying the space between the “factual” and the “nonfactual”, thereby being able to tame the ghost of history in that sphere. Theirs is not an articulation of “how it really was”, but taking control of and abstracting memory. It is this abstraction of history that lays the foundations for mythologies, which in turn are designed to become history. The exhibition How to tame ghosts…will feature Halida Boughriet’s series «MÉMOIRES DANS L’OUBLI» and Mudi Yahaya’s «Conrad’s Circus – For Crown & Country». While the protagonists and setting in «MÉMOIRES DANS L’OUBLI» could be a citation of figures and set-ups in the works of great painters like Gustave Courbet, they do in their own right convey a story of the cameo role, but also the backbone of each society. The melancholic expressions in their faces betray that they could be the mothers, sisters, wives of fallen heroes. With the series “Conrad’s Circus – For Crown & Country”, Yahaya situates his works in the postcolonial Nigerian era. But his spatio-temporal consciousness informs this series as a legitimate, though surreal depiction of what history is or could be. Through the fine collaging and manipulation of analogue and digital images, Yahaya seizes the privilege of the victor and constructs a memory of the unspoken. The three dots in How to tame ghosts… depict the intention of this project as a work-in-progress exhibition. It will develop as a project for all those who have the functional fantasy of making history, especially those once reputed to be without history. Dr. Bonaventure Soh Ndikung Art Director and Founder SAVVY Contemporary


TAM FIOFORI Mudi’s visual scope


MUDI’S VISUAL SCOPE Mudi Yahaya has over the last half-a-decade in particular; distinguished himself as Nigeria’s most exploratory conceptual photographer. His search for further visual depth and multiple layers of interwoven creative meaning have opened up novel narratives that are essentially avant garde and mentally ‘revolutionary’ in the entire Nigerian contemporary art scene. It is instructive that his new work is decisively political. His 2011 exhibition The Ruptured Landscape: On the Construction of Difference visually postulates that all the post-colonial struggles in Black Africa have been scared by violence generated from colonial disengagement. Using ‘scarification’ as a deliberate technique for writing messages on the bodies of his subjects; as against the traditional methods of tattoos and body decoration, Mudi Yahaya accentuates the visual point that colonialisation not only scared the Black Africans’ identity; but also made them immune to the doom of everyday violence and folly of violating their bodies to achieve their means. His body of work plumb new depths in creative imagination and perceptions that awaken equally new lines of thought and, trigger questions about photographic concepts. Do photographs guarantee truth and therefore uncontestable history as documented by frozen moments in time? Or are photographs a mere reflection of the photographers’ gaze of a particular subject or scene and, therefore, open to a spectrum of interpretations? The convenience of interpretation becomes a shared task between the photographer and the viewer. Both of them inevitably delve into the territory of invented memory and history! In Conrad’s Circus For Crown & Country Mudi Yahaya employs the technique of appropriation to examine and reappraise the colonial experience and trauma in Nigeria; particularly Northern Nigeria. Again this is a visual political view with a difference! The landscape and canvas for Yahaya’s visual commentary on political celebrities and the roles they played ‘For Crown & Country’ is a cemetery; an all-white colonial graveyard, in Zungeru.


The black-and-white photographs in this body of work are a subtle yet damming commentary on the racism of colonialisation in life and death. The clever and appropriate use of images that represent powerful colonial officials in their plumed regalia (ironically, with feathers from African birds) and, traditional rulers, Emirs, in their robes of divine privilege, are juxtaposed in the same landscape and valley of death. As created photographs these images conveniently contradict the tenuous relationships and power play between the colonial officials and Emirs whilst they were alive. Yet both are banished to obscurity in death. The photographs also depict a narrative of Nigeria’s journey in governance from the colonial era to military dictatorship and arrogance of power; manifested again by uniforms and costumes. This is a sarcastic visual condemnation of power apparels against a backdrop of political sloganeering. In a visual sense these Yahaya photographs are a true vindication of Fela’s caustic observation that, “uniform na cloth, na tailor dey sew am!” We are given a visual lesson on governance as grandstanding and a circus and charade backed and, kept in power by guns, bullets and death. For Crown and Country pits a supposed sense of duty against the reality of human greed for domination and superiority; the slogan of ‘my country right or wrong’ laid bare as sheer human frailty! Tam Fiofori Lagos, May 2012.


For Crown And Country, 2011 Black and White Photography


For Crown And Country, 2011 Black and White Photography


MUDI YAHAYA For Crown + Country an Exploration into Memory and Fiction


FOR CROWN + COUNTRY

AN EXPLORATION INTO MEMORY AND FICTION In my series of photographs “ For Crown And Country ” I attempt to rewrite history using the photographic strategy of appropriation and the brechtian techniques of representation, exploring how society and people remember and forget. I interject my photographs of contested colonial and post colonial sites with appropriated archival images of pivotal individuals in the colonial and post colonial/military enterprise that where critical in the “creation” of history. The photographs are intentionally presented in black and white to historically situate the visual context closer to the period when the event would have happened. All personalities included in the photographic constructions acted in their capacities for Crown or Country. “ For Crown And Country ” as a photographic essay attempts to explore and investigate the role-played by historical reverie through memory and fiction in Africa’s colonial legacy, examining how photography was an active agent in the visual construction of colonialisation and the extent to which the colonial enterprise depended on Photography. The legacy of photography reveals the burden the camera has wrestled with, in telling the truth. This notion remains a contested site, as the camera simply rarely tells the truth and thus alters history. This begs the questions “ Can history be rewritten? ” and “ Where does memory start and fiction begin?”. Alternatively the essay also hints at how many lives have been lost on issues “ For Crown And Country ”. The work also hints at the power and influence of Joseph Conrads singular perception of Africa and its enduring lingering influence on stereotypes even in today’s world. Mudi Yahaya


MARC-ANDRÉ SCHMACHTEL Mudi Yahaya: How to tame Ghosts...


MUDI YAHAYA HOW TO TAME GHOSTS... Mudi Yahaya, born in 1970, is one of the most important artists of his time in Nigeria. His conceptual works deal with the different aspects of nigerian society, starting with tabooing the human body, then the recent mass protests against the rising oil prices, to the representation of the complex nigerian history or the presentation of traditional practices in the present-day society of Nigeria. As an artist he captivates by a precise analysis of the dominating structures, which he interprets and handles in his own particular way, very often with the help of multimedia. How to tame ghosts...is based on the exhibition Crown and Country & Conrad’s Circus, exposed in the Goethe-Institute Nigeria in February 2012 in Lagos. Mudi Yahaya presented new works, in which he deals with the current nigerian history, but also on Western perception of Africa. Thus, by collaging historical personalities and colonial places, historical events appear to rank a new perspective - a new interpretation of History is within one´s grasp. History is to Mudi Yahaya the product of a new society, which rediscovers itself and so stages itself too. As a result, it can also be subjectively experienced and changed. And specifically, nigerian history offers many approaches, with its complex structures and often contradictory evolutions. Mudi Yahaya overcomes these splits between pictures and new aesthetics in a very smart way. The exhibition takes place in the context of the ceremonies for the 50 years of Goethe-Institute Nigeria. Marc-André Schmachtel Director Goethe-Institut Nigeria


BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG interview with Mudi Yahaya


Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung: Looking at your works, especially in the “For Crown & Country” series, one is immediately struck by the juxtaposition of ‘elements and figures’ that usually do not walk alongside each other. What are these elements and why this juxtaposition? Mudi Yahaya: Juxtaposition is used as a compositional element in this series. The main elements in “ For Crown and Country are the derilict building in the arid wastelands, the tree in the open field and the tombstones or epitaphs at the cemetery. To me Cemeteries are landscapes that conserve memory and commemoration; they are a trajectory demonstrating the vigorous, reciprocal relationship between popular memory and official history, and the exchange between representation, site-specific associations and spatial relations in constituting social meaning in the urban landscape. In this series I use Cemeteries as evidence of social trends, cultural patterns and prevailing ideologies. The figures are characters that played historical roles in the history of Nigeria and the colonial enterprise. The elements act as symbols that carry secondary abstract meaning and ideaology. In photography one of the most effective ways to express ideas photographically is to compare and contrast subjects by juxtaposing them to create expression. As, I am also a filmmaker, I borrowed from Brecht’s theory of montage and by applying Brechtian philosophy of Verfremdungseffekt (defamiliarization effect”, “distancing effect”) - “Dislocating our habitual perceptions of the real world so as to make it the object of renewed attentiveness” I placed contrasting elements side-by-side to add interest to the photographs and hopefully hold the viewer’s attention. In this case the elements contrast in terms of black and white, progressive and retrogressive BSBN:You seem to recount a history of Nigeria or the world in general in this series, which can hardly be found in any conventional history book. How does your source of historical data differ from those of historians? MY: One of the ambitions of the series is to hopefully trigger conversation on the efficacy or the lack of it within conventional history of sites of contention, in this case Nigeria in colonial times. I use the


tombstones as documents that bear vital statistics, which on close observation beg the question of the accuracy of written history. The series was shot at a cemetery in the Northern Nigrian town of Zungeru where Lord Lugard the conquistador of the Northern Protectorate had set up shop. Borrowing again from Brecht to set up a theatrical setting, I try and recall the British conquest of Nigeria as told from the occasion in history where some deposed emirs who stood against the tyrannical rule of Lugard and his 
fellow colonialist ended up being banished to Lokoja. By refusing to 
co-operate with the colonalist surreptitious looting and the domination of 
their territories, these emirs were deposed and exiled to Lokoja. Some of these include the late Emir of Bida, Mallam Mohammed Bashir, deposed 
in 1901, Mallam Aliyu Abdullahi, Emir of Kano, deposed and exiled in 1903 
and Emir of Zaria, Mallam Aliyu Dansidi. Lokoja is the spot where the Union Jack (the British Flag) was raised in 
1901. Symbolically, colonialism started in this spot. The British consulate 
was closed in 1866 and replaced by the Royal Niger Company, who under a 
royal charter, started administering Lokoja. On December 31, 1899. However what is not written in any history book is the fact that the amalgamation of Nigeria was a financial transanction, In 1900 the Royal Niger Company SOLD all its territories to the British Empire at the sum of 865, 000 British pounds! Tubman Goldie had in 1884 formed the Royal Niger Company basically to exploit the palm oil trade and Lugard was his soldier, the military arm of that enterprise. In many common opinions “Lugard was his territorial officer opening the trade. So it was a market. Nigeria is a market that the British opened on palm oil after slave trade was declared illegal”. Lokoja was also known as a major port for slave trade in Nigeria, and was a collection centre 
for seized slaves from merchants, before subsequent release. It would surprise many Nigerian if they google “founder of Nigeria” and they come up with the name of Sir George Tubman Goldie! Goldie is almost totally absent from conventional Nigerian history and can only be traced from the history of the remnants of the company he founded in 1879, today, named United African Company (UAC) whose activities were along the River Niger, to protect British traders as they faced aggressive competition from the French. The company signed many treaties with local chiefs and kings, and imposed their ownership of those territories. Goldies vision was to add to the British Empire territories of the middle and lower Niger. It is


important to note that the British conquest was conducted from its existing coastal enclaves. The British launched pacification campaigns designed to destroy the power of local leaders and in the process undermine popular beief in the various indigenous cultures. At the stampede for control for African territories at the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) Goldie was able to come before the conference with more than two hundred negotiated treaties which the british used as the basis for its claim to what is called Nigeria today and by so doing ruining the French competition who Goldie thought had designs on Northern Nigeria. The graves of 
these emirs are in Lokoja till today. Incidentally Lugard who was High Commissioner in 
the north for six years from the inception of the protectorate in 1900 to 1906, he left Nigeria for Hong Kong where he served as 
governor for another six years. BSBN:Common sense suggests that history is always narrated from the perspective of the victor. Do you seize this position in this series? MY: Yes, I try to point at the fact that the historical gaze is through the lens of the victor in almost all cololonial circumstances. There is only one version of the truth by the victor and several conspiracy theories by the vanquished BSBN:The scenography you chose for these works is a rather funereal one – graveyard, thorn down houses, wasted land. Why this doom’s day and ghostly atmosphere? MY: The stage for my “Drama“ draws alot from Brecht as I said earlier the idea of using symbolic sites of memory is to refunction as a form of material culture, and as with all objects, it is forces the audience to attempt to understand the milieu in which these photographs were created and influenced. BSBN:Another ghostly factor is the colour inversion or usage of negatives. How do you contextualise this? MY: I use the technique of combing analogue cross processing methods with digital manipulation to demonstrate who the camera is very subjective as a tool of documentation and is restricted to the gaze of the photographer and his political leanings or perspective as it where. By delibrately manipulating photographic material I attempt to question the gaze of most photographs from the colonial period that documented africa, Can we totally ignore the fact that an analogue process


of what we call Photoshop existed in the past in eurpean dark rooms? How then can web e certainly sure that the documents presented today are accurate records of the past. BSBN: How does the working process to produce these digital collages look like? MY: Basicaly the use of the technique of combing analogue cross processing methods with digital manipulation. BSBN:This is your first exhibition in Berlin. How can you summarise your expectations? MY: Berlin to me is where it all started. In Africa today there is a lot of talk in some quarters of the eminence of a Berlin 2.0. I hope that my work can provoke debate about the consequence of any form of imperial domination or manipulation in the shadow of a rumoured Berlin 2.0


IMPRINT

EXHIBITION How to tame Ghosts...

GRAPHIC EDIT Giusy Sanna

CURATOR Bonaventure Soh Ndikung

PRINTED IN GERMANY

CO-CURATOR Giusy Sanna ARTISTS Mudy Yahaya | Halida Boughriet PUBLISHER Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung SAVVY Contemporary e.V. Marc-André Schmachtel Goethe Institut Nigeria CURATORIAL SUPPORT Angela Rodriguez PRESS OFFICE Claudia Lamas Cornejo contact@savvy-contemporary.com EDITING Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung

© 2012 SAVVY Contemporary © 2012 of texts: the authors © 2012 of reproduced images: the artists ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Angela Rodriguez, Giusy Sanna, Claudia Lamas Cornejo, Johanna Ndikung, Cilgia Galoda, Raisa Kröger, Ioanna Montenescu, Mikołaj Golubiewski, Andrea Heister, Marcio Carvahlo, Jaime Schwarz.

SUPPORTED BY Goethe Institut Nigeria, Goethe Institut Algeria and Signature Beyond


Transit ,2011 Colors, 8 min


‘La boîte à musique’ 2009- 5’, Colors, Sound The intention of this piece is to confront two worlds : that of plenty, of the idyllic that is represented by this dancer confronting that of a more realistic universe where children have no more dreams. There is a gap between the feeric image and certain situations of social misery, as that of children that are victims of wars. These situations are emitted by a soundtrack.The ballerina turns around relentlessly; the blue light suggests the glass ball and the blue colour is a reference to Degas` paintings. The dancer keeps completely vertical as a sort of aerial dance. She expresses balance, refinement, symmetry of movements in a kind of mechanical dance.


The dancer expresses balance, she turns without stopping - on children’s voices, which have no other content in their speeches than everyday life’s sufferings, in view of the increasing wars that they have to experience. Hard words, surrealist and linked to adults’ world, while replacing their right to pleasure and fertile imagination. BSBN: This is your first exhibition in Berlin. What are your expectations? HB: My expectations are quite simple: an audience, glances, discussions… a new photographic approach and mostly the idea of showing my work in a city like Berlin, itself charged with history.


sonalities through a reversal system. This esthetical approach becomes a ritual and act of the portrait. It is a measure which criticizes Orientalism but at the same time stays inseparable of reality and its humanism, opposite to orientalist representations that did not see the human side but focused mostly on their own lewdness. In these snapshots, I work with light and I am interested in faces. I have taken photos from them all in the same position: laying down on their side, with a kind of halo falling off on them, in a slightly dark room. I was inspired by Orientalism, Ingres’, Boucher’s or Fragonard’s paintings. I love the contrast between sensuality, lasciviousness of their position and the crepuscular atmosphere of the place. It is a sort of reinterpretation of the word Orientalism. BSBN: Are you of the opinion that we are living in an age of forgetting? And do you think that art could be a possibilty of keeping memory? HB: Many artists have produced works which are closely related to issues of collective History. Some of these works have the intention of reminding the spectators of the importance of the part played by those who fight for freedom. Since they inform the spectator about their opinions on these events, they are in fact passing on and committing. BSBN: Do you think art can be an alternative medium through which history can be narrated? HB: Paul Ricouer refers firstly to the ambiguity of an art work´s idea. An art work is what we make of it, what we create of it and at the same time what we make out of our lives and what we are. I just know that I have always “wanted to work on reality, memory, and man”. Through art, I want to live and experience my time, my present. I have been producing since 10 years now and I hope to speak about universal topics! My many-sided productions are marked by a sort of violence, felt through my story and others’ stories too… BSBN: Can you please talk to us about your video „La Boite A Musique“? HB: The purpose of this work is to bring two worlds face to face : an idyllic one, represented by the dancer, and another universe more real, where the child will not have dreams anymore.


Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung: Who are the women you portray in your series „Mémoire dans l’Oubli“? Halida Boughriet: These are portraits of widows who suffered the violence during the Algerian war. Why? Because I was born and grew up in France by Algerian parents, I consider this issue to be a part of my family history. These women represent a collective memory: they are the last witnesses. When Algeria´s war is mentioned, nobody thinks of them. However, these widows suffered, resisted, lost their husbands. I think they are beautiful, regardless of their age. BSBN: You also did another „mémoire dans l’oubli“ series with men in a specific but unusual environment. What is the story of the space in which they find themselves? HB: The story of these old men and women reveals their route and their memories through this photographic act. The transition from a territory to another comes along the whole series of pictures, whereby colour becomes the very material of photography and will seize the image’s surface. In parallel, I took photos of retired Algerians living in Sonacotra households (households for migrant workers, social residences, family hotels, shelters, asylum seeker welcome centers, welcome areas for travellers…) in France. Their common point? They are all forgotten. They represent a period that is getting to an end. BSBN: With this positioning you make a reference to a long line of paintings in art history e.g. Sabbagh Georges Hanna’s Nu couché devant un hublot, Gustav Courbet’s Femme allongée, or Femme Couchée, all naked, as well as Suzanne Valadon’s Femmes allongée sur un canapé. Why this citation? And what is the link you wish to make? HB: My photography indeed makes references to paintings. All these topics are related to Gustave Courbet. The photo series «Mémoires dans l’Oubli» (Memories in Oblivion) is a reflection of great historical per-


BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG interview with Halida Boughriet


,une mémoire dans l’oubli, colour photography


une mĂŠmoire dans l'oubli, colour photography


The scene opens this way: laying down on a window seat, women gently dozed off by the force of age are presented to our eyes. A Woman´s body, this offending object, also shroud in modesty and fantasies. But most of all, the body from elsewhere, from the distant “Orient”, bathed by a dense light which has been necessarily tamed. In her series “Une Mémoire dans l´oublie” (a Memory in Oblivion, 2010-2011) Halida Boughriet reintroduces some of the typologies spread by the orientalist paintings in order to better deconstruct the mythology. The established and idealized imagery of everyday life gives way to the inner triviality, hardly disturbed by our presence, like an echo in these Algerian widow’s memories, witnesses of the independence war. Giving a stare full of sensibility, Halida Boughriet restores human condition to these political bodies. Fanny Gillet.


FANNY GILLET


If one were to engross thoughts on this statement, one could easily suggest that artistic expression IS the language in which all is said without necessarily uttering words. This holds true at least for the artists Halida Boughriet (FR/DZ) and Mudi Yahaya (NG) who, willingly or unwillingly, recount the past and history’s trace to the present using photography as their main utensil. Their photography stands as a voice of the unspoken or the unuttered, as they do not seek to represent “historical facts” but dare to portray an alternative historical narrative. These artists succeed in occupying the space between the “factual” and the “nonfactual”, thereby being able to tame the ghost of history in that sphere. Theirs is not an articulation of “how it really was”, but taking control of and abstracting memory. It is this abstraction of history that lays the foundations for mythologies, which in turn are designed to become history. The exhibition How to tame ghosts…will feature Halida Boughriet’s series «MÉMOIRES DANS L’OUBLI» and Mudi Yahaya’s «Conrad’s Circus – For Crown & Country». While the protagonists and setting in «MÉMOIRES DANS L’OUBLI» could be a citation of figures and set-ups in the works of great painters like Gustave Courbet, they do in their own right convey a story of the cameo role, but also the backbone of each society. The melancholic expressions in their faces betray that they could be the mothers, sisters, wives of fallen heroes. With the series “Conrad’s Circus – For Crown & Country”, Yahaya situates his works in the postcolonial Nigerian era. But his spatio-temporal consciousness informs this series as a legitimate, though surreal depiction of what history is or could be. Through the fine collaging and manipulation of analogue and digital images, Yahaya seizes the privilege of the victor and constructs a memory of the unspoken. The three dots in How to tame ghosts… depict the intention of this project as a work-in-progress exhibition. It will develop as a project for all those who have the functional fantasy of making history, especially those once reputed to be without history. Dr. Bonaventure Soh Ndikung Art Director and Founder SAVVY Contemporary


HOW TO TAME GHOSTS... „History (with a capital H) ends where the histories of those peoples once reputed to be without history come together. History is a highly functional fantasy of the West, originating at precisely that time when it alone ‘made’ the 1 history of the world. Edouard Glissant, The Quarrel with History – The Known, the Uncertain To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize “how it really was.” It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger… The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. 2 And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious. Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History

It is common knowledge that history, as concrete as it may be portrayed in history books, and the privilege to write history is one of the most prestigious chalices, earned or seized by any victor or person in power. History thus must be seen and appreciated only through the prism of he/she who wrote it, as the facts in history are usually rather subjective than objective, and the definition of the “truth” in any historical context is to be treated with some caution. In its multi-dimensionality, it is this concoction of the real/truth, the fictitious, and the untold that makes history what it is… especially as it is the case that the silent voices in history are much louder than the voices, which have found a way into our ears today. History is thus like a ghost that lingers, in undecidability, between the worlds of the living and the dead, between the darkness of night and the light of day, between the planets of truth and those of lies. Thus, to talk about history one has to research upon the shades between these aforementioned extremes. The crux of the matter is the hypothesis that this space between the extremes of a factual and non-factual history, i.e. this space occupied by untamed ghosts can most appropriately be occupied by using a medium more superior to language3- which is art. In his Essay on the Origin of Language , Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes „But the most powerful language is the one in which all is said without a word being uttered“. 1 Edouard Glissant, The Quarrel with History – The Known, the Uncertain 2 Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History. 1940, Original German: Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974 3 Jean-Jacques Rousseau Essay on the Origin of Languages, published 1781 (Essai sur l’origine des langues)


BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG How to tame Ghosts...


INDEX 5 8

BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG How to Tame Ghosts...

Halida Boughriet

14

BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG Interview with Halida Boughriet

24

I M P R I N T

FANNY GILLET


HOW TO TAME GHOSTS... Halida Boughriet | Mudi Yahaya

A project conceived by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Savvy Contemporary) and Marc-André Schmachtel (Goethe Institut Lagos) Curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung co-curator Giusy Sanna An exhibition by SAVVY Contemporary Richardstr. 43/44, 12055 Berlin-Neukölln Opening of the exhibition: 9th June 2012, 7 pm Exhibition opening hours: 10th of June 2012 – 30th of June 2012, thursday – saturday 4 – 8 pm


HOW TO TAME GHOSTS...


How to tame Ghosts...catalogue