Love and Ethnology : The Colonial Dialectic of Sensitivity (after Hubert Fichte)

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, Germany
18 Oct 2019 - 06 Jan 2020

Alair Gomes, photos from the series The Course of the Sun, 1975–1980, Archives of the National Library Foundation, Brazil

Alair Gomes, photos from the series The Course of the Sun, 1975–1980, Archives of the National Library Foundation, Brazil

Can the ethnographic gaze be “given back”, restituted? From the subcultures in 1960s Hamburg to psychiatric practices in (post-)colonial Senegal, from the polymorphic gender roles in the religions of Candomblé, Vodou and Santería to the onset of the AIDS crisis in the gay community: The exhibition Love and Ethnology takes up Hubert Fichte’s themes as the starting point for works by contemporary artists on questions of representation, canonization and colonial power relations.

The German writer Hubert Fichte (1935-1986) was fascinated by arts and religions of the African diaspora. In the 1970s, he travelled cities like Salvador da Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Dakar, New York and Lisbon, developing his utopia of a radical sensitivity. This sensitivity would serve research alongside intense interviews, intimacy through (gay) sexuality, self-reflexivity, and a condensed poetry of objectivity. Fichte’s experiments with dialogical forms of writing were incorporated in his monumental, unfinished cycle of novels Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity).

The exhibition and research project in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology, opens these works for a critical contemporary discussion. Since 2017, selected novels have been translated into Portuguese, English, French, Spanish and Wolof. For the first time, this stimulated a reception of Fichte’s writings in the places of their creation. Exhibitions curated on-site showed new artistic works. The concluding Berlin exhibition Love and Ethnology – The Colonial Dialectic of Sensitivity (after Hubert Fichte) gathers these inverted gazes and presents them against the backdrop of ethnology and the aesthetic avant-garde of post-war West Germany.

With extensive archival materials and artistic works by Nadja Abt, Kader Attia, Gilles Aubry, Alvin Baltrop, Gabriel Barbi, Letícia Barreto, Coletivo Bonobando, Papisto Boy, Michael Buthe, Nathalie David, Claudia del Fierro, Virginia de Medeiros,Mestre Didi, Avril Forest, Alair Gomes, Renée Green, Philipp Gufler,Ayrson Heráclito, Isaac Julien, Euridice Kala, Martin Kippenberger und Akim S. aus 44, Friedl Kubelka, Pedro Lemebel, Cristóbal Lehyt, Musa Michelle Mattiuzzi, Leonore Mau, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Michaela Melián, Mario Navarro, Richard Oelze, Pan African Space Station, Lil Picard, André Pierre, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Daniel Richter, Miguel Rio Branco and others.

Curated by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke

Part of Kanon-Fragen


Opening: Thu Oct 17, 6pm, free admission

Conference: Fri, Oct 18 & Sat, Oct 19




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