Kapwani Kiwanga: A Memory Palace

Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin, Germany
30 Jan 2015 - 04 Apr 2015

Kapwani Kiwanga: A Memory Palace

Galerie Tanja Wagner presents new works by Kapwani Kiwanga. A Memory Palace is her first solo exhibition in Germany.

Kapwani Kiwanga’s projects often manifest as video and sound installations as well as peformances. She intentionally confuses truth and fiction in order to unsettle hegemonic narratives and create spaces in which marginal discourse can flourish.

In this exhibition Kiwanga offers the visitor a journey through time, constructed spaces, and assembled narratives using image and sound. As the title suggests, the concept of the palace or grand residency is central in the exhibition. The artist references a now-disappeared physical edifice; the former Reich Chancellery of Berlin which was known also as Palais Radzwill or Palais Schulenburg. This building was the setting to a number of historic events and important meetings.

The starting point for the exhibition is the Congo conference, 1884-1885, a series of diplomatic meetings which transpired within this building’s walls. European and American representatives met at the palace and made decisions which would change the geopolitical topography forever. The orders made regulated European trade in Africa, lead to the establishment of the Congo Free State, and set the stage for the ensuing “scramble for Africa”; the fervent colonisation of Africa by European nations. Kiwanga’s investigations take her around, beside, beyond, and before the Congo conference to unearth some intriguing stories. Stories she is eager to relate.

For the opening, the artist will perform a conference-performance based on her research on the Congo Conference which pulls together creation myths, liberatory acts, detective novels and crimes against humanity. Some of these performative elements will find their way into the exhibition where Kiwanga transforms the gallery into a physical manifestation of a memory palace. A memory palace is an ancient Greek method of memory enhancement, which uses visualization to organize and recall information. Items of information to be remembered are mentally associated with specific physical locations within a larger encompassing imagined space. When one needs to retrieve these items one only needs to imagine one’s self on a journeying through this space. Arriving at different imagined locations, images or situations unfold which trigger one to remember associated information.

Kiwanga employs both image and spoken word in her construction into a three dimensional memory palace. The visitor is invited to discover signs which range from obscure to iconic, archival to popular. The images all work together in a quest to hear new stories. As such, in A Memory Palace, Kiwanga offers the visitor a conceptual, temporal, and geographical meander without a definite telos if not to inscribe some facts and fictions into one’s memory.

Kapwani Kiwanga studied Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, Montréal. She was an artist in residence at: L’Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Le Fresnoy: National Contemporary Art Studio (France), MU Foundation, Eindhoven and Le Manège, Dakar.

Her film and video works have been nominated for two Awards of the British Academy of Film and Television, and have received awards at international film festivals. She has exhibited internationally including at Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, Foundation Ricard, Paris, France; Glasgow Centre of Contemporary Art, Paris Photo, Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, Almería, Spain; and the Art Catalyst, London. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include Jeu de Paume, Paris; Berlin Ethnographic Museum, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris; Hebbel Am Ufer, Berlin, SALT, Istanbul, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

From March 6 – 15, Kapwani will participate at the festival Return to Sender at HAU – Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin.

Galerie Tanja Wagner
Pohlstraße 64, 10785 Berlin



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