Emeka Ogboh : PLAYBACK – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz

ifa Gallery, Berlin, Germany
22 Oct 2015 - 10 Jan 2016

Emeka Ogboh : PLAYBACK – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz

Emeka Ogboh, PLAYBACK, The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz. © Victoria Tomaschko.


The Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations conceived the artistic competition for the Peace and Security building of the African Union in Addis Ababa. With the exhibition PLAYBACK, the ifa Gallery Berlin provides insight into the winning project by the Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh.

The exhibition is based on the sound and archival materials the artist has assembled for the installation in Addis Ababa. Emeka Ogboh merges historical speeches broadcast by the Ethiopian radio network on the occasion of the founding ceremony of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963, with newly arranged compositions and his own sound recordings to form a multi-part installation. With reference to the principle of “Unity in Diversity” the artist develops an adaptation of the anthem of the African Union based on translations into the various vernacular languages. In the form of a dynamic archive of voices, sounds and thoughts, the installation engages with the past and present of the association of African states, with its pan-African visions and rhetorical expressions.

The jury, presided and moderated by the artist Olafur Eliasson, brought together experts from across Africa. The jury’s decision was preceded by a three-day conference entitled Future Memories, which provided a forum to discuss cultures of memory and the significance of art in public spaces in African contexts. The conference was jointly conceived and organised by the ifa and the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Addis Ababa, and financed by the German Federal Foreign Office.

The decision for Emeka Ogboh, who primarily works with digital audio media, signals a fundamental change in direction with regards to art in public spaces.

As Elke aus dem Moore, director of the visual arts department at the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa) and responsible for the general concept, notes: “The jury’s decision for Emeka Ogboh’s artistic proposal constitutes a clear rejection of the monumental in art – of the manifestation of remembrance in static monuments. At the same time, it represents a continuation of the trans-African discourse by other means.”

The ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) promotes artistic and cultural exchange in exhibitions, dialogue, and conference programs. As a competence centre for foreign cultural and educational policy, it facilitates links among civil societies, cultural practice, art, media, and science. It initiates, moderates, and documents discussions about international cultural relations. The ifa was appointed by the German Federal Foreign Office with realising the competition and overseeing the production process of the winning work.

The German Federal Foreign Office finances the construction of the Peace and Security building in Addis Ababa as a visible contribution to strengthening the strategic management capability of the African Union with a view to conflict avoidance and conflict control. The building will be used to plan and administer future African Union peace missions.

Tuning in: Conversations on sonic memories
Friday, 23 October 2015, 18:00

Welcome address by Elke aus dem Moore – Director of the Visual Arts Department at the ifa; general concept of the project

With Emeka Ogboh (sound artist), Anawana Haloba (artist), Neo Muyanga (musician, composer), Florian Sievers (music journalist, Christina Werner (curator of the exhibition / moderation) and N’Goné Fall (curator and jury member of the artistic competition for the Peace and Security building of the African Union in Addis Ababa).

In English

With the generous support of the German Foreign Office.

ifa Gallery Berlin
Linienstrasse 139/140,
10115 Berlin



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