We are tomorrow – Visions and memories at the Berlin Conference in 1884

Ballhaus Naunynstraße, Berlin, Germany
15 Nov 2014 - 26 Feb 2015

We are tomorrow – Visions and memories at the Berlin Conference in 1884

© Lena Obst, courtesy: Ballhaus Naunynstraße

Berlin Africa Conference, West Africa Conference, Congo Conference – until today circulate different names for that meeting that took place in Berlin from 15th November 1884 until 26th February 1885. This conference gave the go-ahead to the extensive colonization of the continent – the arbitrary partition of Africa in absence of the Africans. The Berlin Conference is an unresolved chapter of German and global History. One that, as opposed to the Naziera, still is hardly anchored in the public consciousness.

Through different Perspectives and different forms of artistic expression the Ballhaus Naunynstraße wants to make this event visible and tangible for the public. From November 2014 to February 2015 – following the actual duration of the Berlin conference  –  We are tomorrow will provide a wide range of interdisciplinary events. With theater, performance, dance, exhibitions, literature, film, visual arts and music the curators and artists illuminate the historic event in new facets.


EXHIBITION SERIES: Yesternow. Zwischen Jetset und Vergessen
15 November 2014 – 26 February 2015

As in many other contexts colonization of the African continent has also taken place in the visual arts. About a hundred years ago, the Expressionists took the formal language of African countries and influenced Western art up to the present day in a decisive way without any reference to the origin of their influences. Without this, modernity would certainly have taken a different direction. For the exhibition Yesternow. Zwischen Jetset und Vergessen contemporary African visual artists are invited from Angola, Senegal and South Africa. With their work they participate in the discourse on the tension between the incredible pace of economic development and a sometimes very close wartime past in their countries. That this tension results from the colonial past is the starting point of the exhibition project.

Curated by Manuela Sambo

Featuring: Mansour Ciss Kanakassy, Thabo Thindi, Manuela Sambo and others


FILM SERIES – “BEYOND THE MAPS” – African Resistance against Colonial Power
at fsk cinema – from 16.11.2014 – 22.02.2015 each Sunday 3pm

The series is dedicated to film productions of various genres that deal with both the resistance against European colonialism on African soil, and the conference itself. In addition to film screenings there are public discussions with the filmmakers and invited artists.

Curated by Enoka Ayemba


LITERATURE SERIES: Literary topographies of colonialism
19th November & 20th December 2014, 8pm / 25th January & 12 February 2015, 8pm

Till the end of February, the series presents book readings followed by round-table discussions with African (Diaspora) writers in conversation with scholars of different disciplines. The literary journey through time begins with real as well as fictional biographies situated in the 1880’s of the German Empire, then moves on to African landscapes of memory in poetry, letters, and diaries during the time of genocides in Namibia and modern-day Tanzania as well as during German colonial rule in Cameroon, highlights the memoirs of African (Diaspora) soldiers during World War I which have remained in the shadows of western historiography, pays a fleeting literary visit to Germany’s colonial neighbours, and finally arrives in the present where migration and transnationality in the African (Diaspora) novel chart “old new borders”.

Curated by Nadja Ofuatey­Alazard

Featuring: Theodor Wonja Michael, Jessica Köster, Maaza Mengiste, Everlyn Nicodemus, David Olusoga, Malek Alloula among others


18th November 2014, 8pm / 21th December 2014, 7pm / 21th January, 8pm

The Spontaneous Town Meeting is an interdisciplinary jam session in the format of a talk show taking place every month in the context of the series WE ARE TOMORROW – Visions and Retrospection on Occasion of the 1884 Berlin Conference. Jazz musician Jean­Paul Bourelly invites musicians and writers, DJs, historians and actors to an afro-futuristic meeting in order to open up the gates of a Black collective knowledge archive. In an interaction between language and music, guests and audience, emotion and didactics, current and historic discourses are negotiated so as to emphasise new aspects and develop perspectives which so far seemed limited by the framework of their negotiation. As a consequence, discussions on the situation of refugees living in Berlin, the destruction of family relationships owing to the continuity of colonial conditions, the power dynamics between Old Europe and New Africa obtain an unknown variety of fresh perspectives and possible interpretations.

Curated by Jean­Paul Bourelly


DURATION COLONY BERLIN – Postcolonial city tour
22. November 2014 + 13th December 2014 + 17th January 2015  , 1pm

Afrikanisches Viertel (African Quarter) and Schlossplatz, “Mohrenstraße,” Wilhelmstraße and May-Ayim-Ufer: all of these very different places have one thing in common – they were the sites of German policies of enslavement and colonialism. This is where crimes against humanity were planned, committed or celebrated by honouring the aggressors. Goods, art treasures and also human beings stolen in the colonies came into this city. Up to the present day the colonial propaganda from the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich continues to have an effect in Berlin’s cityscape. And until this day people in Berlin, Germany and Europe benefit – unconsciously and self-evidently – from colonial continuities shaping everyday life – from the morning coffee to the smart phone. The bus tour provides insights into a history and present which are at the same time suppressed and existent, starting out from local vestiges while also addressing the resistance of Black people which quickly emerged.

Meeting point: EOTO e.V., Paul Gerhardt Stift, Müllerstraße 56-58

Please note: The tour starts here and ends at May Ayim-Ufer, Kreuzberg. We therefore recommend public transport to reach the meeting point.

The tour includes walking in the open, please be prepared for cold and rainy weather.

Host: Joshua Kwesi Aikins


31. January and 01. February 2015, 12noon – 6pm

Curated by Philipp Khabo Koepsell



21. + 22. November 2014, 8pm

Performing Back is an artistic engagement with the continuity of Germany’s colonial past. The centre of the performance is constituted by Simone Dede Ayivi’s meticulous search for traces in the seemingly unremarkable cityscape between motorway and swan pond. Accompanied by the voices of Black German activists and creative artists, she travels to the sites of former human zoos, colonial monuments and colonial street formations, chronicles resistance and visions, offers outlooks and retrospection.

In a compilation of past, present, and future artefacts, hegemonic processes of historiography are called into question, colonial and racist imageries are deconstructed, ultimately inventing a new, post-colonial aesthetic.

Produced by Simone Dede Ayivi and team.


29. November 2014, 8pm

Workshop presentation by Annabel Guérédrat

In 2013 Annabel Guérédrat opened the festival Black Lux – Home Festival from Black Perspectives at Ballhaus Naunynstraße with her trio Women Part II – you might think I’m crazy, but I’m serious. In November she starts developing a new project here, titled Colored Woman in a White World, with female artists from Berlin. Her main source of inspiration is the autobiography with the same title by Mary Church Terell (1863­1954).

Women of color are invited to describe their impressions of their current lives. After 130 years – are they still “women of color in a white world”? Do they still feel that’s what they are and how do they deal with that? On stage, Annabel Guérédrat is concerned with intimacy and honesty – focusing on the women’s very personal stories as well as the motivation to relate experiences as Black women.


17 +18 December 2014, 8pm

A Freak Show for S. is a solo performance. It is a tribute to Sarah Baartman, the “Black Venus,” a woman of Khoisan heritage who in the 19th century was exhibited naked and against her will as an exotic curiosity for the amusement of a European audience. Annabel Guérédrat enters the process of exploring the scope of action of a sexualised Black woman.

Guérédrat experiments with eroticism and surrender, with control and resistance, and the question, if these things cannot actually be the same thing after all. She breaks the mould of self-perception and external perception of the sexualised body, of the exoticised. And in doing so, she simultaneously criticises the shocking normality of sexist and inherently racist viewing habits.

A Freak Show for S. is the attempt of a performative transformation for both the audience and the performer; from the dehumanized object of sexual desire to a resistant and self-determined Black woman right up to a state of pure dancing energy.

Created by and featuring: Annabel Guérédrat


STILL / life
13 & 14 Januyra.1205,8pm
Danceperformance by Qudus Onikeku


16.+ 17 January 2015, 8pm
Staged reading by Branwen Okpako


Lecture Performance /Artist Talk
18. January 2015 7pm
with Branwen Okpako and Wendy Sutherland


23 + 24 January 2015, 8pm
Performance by Mmakgosi Kgabi andStompie Selibe


6 +7 February 2015, 8pm
A project of the Academy der Autodidakten Ballhaus Naunynstraße


19 February 8pm + 21 February 7pm
23 -25 February 8pm

by Olivia Wenzel

Text: Olivia Wenzel
Director: Mohammed Nor Atif Hussein
Dramaturgy: Katja Wenzel
With: Asad Schwarz-Msesilamba, Dela Dabulamanzi, Theo Plakoudakis, Lisa Scheibner, Toks Körner, Isabelle Redfern, Atilla Öner


SPECIAL ISSUE: KIEZ-MONTH REVIEW – 130 Years Berlin Conference
20 February 2015 , 8pm
A project of the Academy der Autodidakten Ballhaus Naunynstraße



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