Contemporary Art Conversations: “In the Heart of the Lights,” by curator Simon Njami

Wir-Sind-Alle-Berliner-1884-2014-LogoCurator, writer and art critic Simon Njami will be giving a keynote lecture on 17th February 2015 to launch a series of events at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry to accompany his current exhibition WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014 – A Commemoration of the Berlin Congo Conference (on display at SAVVY Contemporary  in Berlin until 28th February 2015).

Image: © Solveig Maria Ebbinghaus. Source:
Image: © Solveig Maria Ebbinghaus. Source:

The content of the exhibition and the focus of its associated programme of talks, workshops, concerts and film screenings features reflections on 130 years since the (so called) “Scramble for Africa” Berlin Conference took place in 1884. The contributing artists and academics seek to facilitate a conversation that provokes audiences to consider the many complex  ideological, economic, political, geographical and socio-cultural repercussions of this historical event through their various aesthetic responses.

“The exhibition and the accompanying discursive programme offer a critical knowledge sharing platform on the Berlin Conference, on past and current socio-political and economic phenomena in a Europe of flourishing nationalism and racism, as it deals with issues like migration flow or border and identity politics.”
– Press Release [SAVVY Contemporary], January 2015.

(NB: An exhibition summary and link to art critic Elsa Guily’s more detailed review of Njami’s work is also available via Museum Geographies in the blog post, “How art deals with the carving of a continent.”)

Photograph of Simon Njami, curator of the exhibition Wir Sind Alle Berliner: 1884-2014.
Photograph of Simon Njami, curator of the exhibition Wir Sind Alle Berliner: 1884-2014.

In Simon Njami’s February lecture – “In the Heart of the Lights” – he will deliberate on the concept of the exhibition and explore the role and importance of artistic and cultural interventions in the context of shifting historical discourses, and also considerations about the politics of memory. This will be followed by a presentation titled “Imperial Debris and Why it Matters Now” by Ann Laura Stoler, Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research (New York).

For further information about the exhibition programme, please see the SAVVY Contemporary press release at

Additional contextual information about Ann Laura Stoler’s paper is also available in the introductory chapter of the book she recently edited: STOLER, A. L. (Ed.) 2013.  Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

The second phase of the WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014 exhibition programme will take place from Thursday, 26th February to Sunday 1st March 2015, with further details available online at the SAVVY Contemporary website.

Image: © Filipa César, The Embassy 2011. Source:
Image: © Filipa César, The Embassy 2011. Source:

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Carol Dixon

Carol Ann Dixon is an education consultant and academic researcher interested in African and Caribbean diaspora histories and heritage, cultural geography, museology and contemporary visual art. Her PhD dissertation/doctoral thesis is titled "The 'othering' of Africa and its diasporas in Western museum practices" (University of Sheffield, UK, 2016).

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