BLACK LUX presents the exhibition Black Mirrors – Memory. Body. Identity. This video Exhibition & Installation curated by Asoka Esuruoso takes the work of six African, Afro- Diasporic, and Afro-German video artists whose pieces offer multilayered reflections which challenge and ultimately transform preconceived notions of Black identity, sexuality, gender, desire, and belonging within the German context and beyond. Through their work Black identities, perspectives and voices are more than challenging mirrors reflecting back upon the audience’s gaze, they are powerful embodied subjects within their own right.
Video Artists & Work:
Branwen Okpako, director, writer, and producer was born in Lagos, Nigeria to an Urhobo pharmacologist father and a Welsh-Librarian mother. She attended and completed her International Baccalaureate at the Atlantic College in Wales, before going to the University of Bristol and studying politics. She later moved to Berlin to study at the DFFB (German Film and Television Academy), where she met and studied with Tsitsi Dangarembga, Wanjiru Kinyanjui and Auma Obama. Okpako and her work are a hybrid of cultures and influences, however, as a Nigerian and someone of Uhrobo origin, poetry and storytelling are deeply rooted within her. Her world renowned work as a director and producer includes the 2011 documentary The Education of Auma Obama, which reveals one of the key women living in the shadows of Obama’s success – his fascinating Kenyan half-sister, Auma Obama.
Video Installation: “Seh’ ich was, was Du nicht siehst?” (Can I see something you can’t?) by Branwen Okpako.
Thabo Thindi is a Black South African filmmaker and artist based in Berlin and one of the producers and creators of Jozi.tv. Jozi.tv is a film and TV production hub based in Berlin. The Jozi.tv production hub also produces an online platform and a dynamic online broadcast network, which serves as an African cultural diplomacy entity in Germany. Its aim is to play a fundamental role in profiling African stories and lives, documenting African related content in Berlin, and ultimately the rest of Germany and Europe with the goal of integrating and increasing the diversity of the African content in Europe.
Video Installation:“Exile Stories” By Thabo Thindi & Jozi.tv
Jamika Ajalon is an inter-disciplinary artist who works with different media independently, but also in multiple fusions – incorporating written and spoken text, sound/music, and visuals. A nomad, Jamika grew up in the USA, but has lived for years in various European countries, including England, Germany (for short periods in Berlin) and now France. She has also traveled within Africa, where she has met and collaborated with artists and academics who challenge ‘frontiers’ and are planting seeds. Jamika has performed, recorded, published and exhibited her work in various cities including: Vienna, London, Berlin, Senegal, Kampala, and Paris. For a current example of her writing please check out the recent publication The Little Book of Big Visions published by Witnessed and Edition Assemblage.
Video: “I was an Alien Unseen and Seen” by Jamika Ajalon & Sinethemba Twalo
Video:“berlinherosurbanskin” by Jamika Ajalon
Juli (a) Rivera is a gender gifted African-European story-teller and activist currently working in Berlin and Toronto. Rivera’s films often focus upon the day-to-day racism and brutality found in Germany. Through the videos the audience is given a vibrant composite of the contemporary German landscape.
Video:“The decadence of your starvation” by Juli (a) Rivera
Melody LaVerne Bettencourt is an Afro-German artist who studied Fine Arts at HFBK Hamburg, in the classes of Michaela Melian, Isaac Julien. She is living and working in Berlin. In her video installations, paintings and collages, Bettencourt presents a living stage populated by women freedom fighters, and hybrid identities, which also plays with her own heritage and roots. Her interest is directed towards the role of women in post-colonial societies or during times of change/revolution. Material is provided by her own origin, the history of the native land of her mother, Cape Verde. The Cape Verde islands were one of the first outposts for deportations of Africans on the way to America and as a former Portuguese colony it only gained its independence in 1975. The memory of change is fresh and Bettencourt takes advantage of this in a series of experimental videos and interviews with contemporary women witnesses.
Videos: ‘PORTRAIT OF NACIA GOMI’ by Melody LaVerne Bettencourt
Video:‘MORGENRÖTE FÜR ZE PARIS’ by Melody LaVerne Bettencourt
Asoka Esuruoso is an inter-disciplinary artist, filmmaker and writer from Boston who is currently based in Berlin where she has lived and worked for the past 5 years. She is a co-founder of the Black German empowerment project Arriving In The Future, which curates performances across Berlin and is publishing an anthology of Black German poetry and creative writing. She studied film at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore before moving to New York to finish her degree at Columbia University. Her writing and films have been published and exhibited in the US and Germany and often deal with the themes of Black female subjectivity and sexuality along with family and cultural memory and trauma within the African American and Black German communities. Esuruoso is the curator of the Black Lux Video Exhibition and Installation 2013, as well as being a contributing artist.