Black Diaspora + Berlin

Decolonial Narratives

Curated by Alanna Lockward & Julia Roth


November 20, 2014, 13-22.30 hrs at Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, Berlin


D-10178 Berlin

A project funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education

(bpb – Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)

– Simultaneous translation German-English –

-RSVP free and open to the public-


In the course of the so-called “Scramble for Africa”, the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 was held. At that moment, the colonial powers already on the African continent officially divided it among themselves. Under the Nazi Regime, German Jews, Sinti, Roma, Black Germans and People of Color were stigmatized and systematically exterminated.

The heroic refugees in the protest camp at Oranienplatz are only one recent sad example of how German internal and external policies are actively involved in funding and expanding the racist delimitation of the EU’s external borders with institutions such as Frontex. “BLACK DIASPORA + BERLIN. DECOLONIAL NARRATIVES” is dedicated to exposing and critically discussing the continuities of this state of affairs, decentering hegemonic accounts on this matter. Until today, predominant self-representations of Germanness and especially the cosmopolitanism of Berlin are still presented as white. Black German and African Diasporas’ narratives are considered as belonging to a constructed “Other”. However, for a very long time, Black and African Diasporas have played a relevant role in this city.

This one-day symposium will introduce counter narratives of Black German legacies as well as art and activism interventions in Berlin and other European metropolis. A film screening, live performances and contributions on art education from a Black Diaspora perspective are also part of the program. The symposium aims at decolonizing established notions of knowledge, sensing and being and at enabling a dialogue on the current articulation of white supremacist discourses in Berlin and elsewhere, offering strategies and practices to dismantle it.

The series “bpb metro”, initiated and conceptualized by Julia Roth for the German Agency for Civic Education, takes the Berlin urban/metropolitan “space of struggle and negotiation” as a starting point. This sixth edition is a co-operation with Berlin-based Caribbean author, curator and activist Alanna Lockward, who has initiated and successfully presented BE.BOP. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS (2012-2014) at Ballhaus Naunynstraße.






12.45 Welcome: Thomas Krüger

(President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education bpb)

Introduction: Alanna Lockward and Julia Roth

13.00 to 14.15: Reading:

Theodor Michael “Deutsch sein und Schwarz dazu. Erinnerungen eines Afrodeutschen”

(Being German and also Black. Memories of an Afro-German)

Moderation: Sarah Bergh

14.30 to 16.15: Film Screening:

Audre Lorde. The Berlin Years 1984-1992”  by Dagmar Schulz (79 min.)

Q&A with Ika Hügel-Marshall

(Psychological advisor for intercultural issues, graphic artist, lecturer and writer co-author and cinematographer of the film “Audre Lorde. The Berlin Years“)

Moderation: Julia Roth

– 16.15 to 16.45: Break –

16.45 to 18.15: Panel 1: Black Diaspora Arts and Activism in Berlin

– Christel Gbaguidi

(Actor, theater pedagogue, founder of the initiative ART VAGABONDS, organized the project “Die flüchtige Republik” with refugees from the protest camp at Oranienplatz Berlin)

– Bonaventure Ndikung

(Curator, Director of Savvy Contemporary Art Space Berlin)

– Jamie Schearer

(Activist, Board Member of Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland e.V. / Initiative Black People in Germany)

– Mekonnen Mesghena

(Department Head Migration & Diversity, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

Moderation: Alanna Lockward and Julia Roth

– 18.15 to 18.45: Break –

18.45 to 22:45 Keynote and Panel 2: Black Europe Art and Education

18.45: Keynote: “Black Europe Body Politics and Decolonial Aesthesis”

Alanna Lockward

(Author, Journalist, BE.BOP Curator @ Ballhaus Naunynstraße)

19:15 to 21:00 Panel 2: Black Europe Art & Education

-Artwell Cain

(Researcher and activist. Former director of  NiNsee (National institute of Dutch Slavery Past and Legacy).

Augustus Casely-Hayford

(Curator, art historian, former Director of inIVA, BBC presenter, Research Associate at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies)

Jean-Ulrick Désert

(Artist, teacher and advisor @ Transart Institute Low-Residency MFA & PhD, Berlin)

-Teresa María Díaz Nerio

(Artist and researcher, Amsterdam)

-Yoel Díaz Vázquez

(Artist and activist, Berlin)

-Jeannette Ehlers

(Artist and curator, Copenhagen)

Moderation: Julia Roth

– 21:00 to 21:15 Break –

21:15 to 22:45 Peformances:

-21:00-21:30 Quinsy Gario. “A Village Called Gario”.

-21:40-22.10 Patricia Kaersenhout. “Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow”.

-22:10-22.30 Q&A with performance artists Quinsy Gario, Patricia Kaersenhout,

Moderation: Artwell Cain

Afterwards: Party with DJ Lotic


SARAH BERGH created in 2002 her platform Bergh Culture and Arts Projects and organizes artistic productions by commission, as well as conceptualizing and producing her very own cultural events. In addition, at conferences, panel discussions, or readings, concerts and award ceremonies Sara Bergh is a versed host and master of ceremonies, who links the podium with the audience. She is based in Munich.

ARTWELL CAIN PhD is director/researcher at Institute of Cultural Heritage & Knowledge. Before that he was from 2009 to 2012 director of NiNsee (National institute of Dutch Slavery Past and Legacy). His research interest includes social mobility, identification and the politics of belonging, representation, decoloniality, managing diversity and civic education.

(GUS) DR. AUGUSTUS CASELY-HAYFORD is an art historian, who after completing his PhD in African cultural history went on to run a number of degree and MA courses in international culture. He has presented in television and radio, including several BBC World Service radio series on African culture an award winning African art South Bank Show and two series of Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC. Former Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England, and Ex-Director of the Institute of International Contemporary Art (inIVA), Augustus Casely-Hayford advised the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils and has written widely including for papers like The Guardian and The Independent and published the book Lost Kingdoms of Africa. Prior to joining inIVA he initiated, and became the Director of Africa 05, the largest African arts season ever hosted in Britain. He is presently writing his second book, is working for the Kings Cultural Institute, sits on Tate Britain Council, the board of National Portrait Gallery, the Development Board of the Young Vic and was the Chair of the 2013 Caine Prize.

Worked in partnership with the BBC and Starbucks to realize more than 1000 events celebrating African culture, with a primary focus on the visual arts. He lives and works in London.

JEAN-ULRICK DÉSERT is a conceptual and visual-artist. He  received his degrees at Cooper Union and Columbia University (New York) and has lectured or been a critic at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Humboldt University and l’école supérieur des beaux arts. Désert’s artworks vary in forms such as billboards, actions, paintings, site-specific sculptures, video and objects and emerge from a tradition of conceptual-work engaged with social/cultural practices,  Well known for his “Negerhosen2000”, his provocative “Burqa Project” and his poetic “Goddess Projects” he has said his practice may be characterized as visualizing “conspicuous invisibility”. He has exhibited widely at such venues as The Brooklyn Museum, Cité Internationale des Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston,The NGBK in galleries and public venues in Munich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Brussels.  He is the recipient of awards, public commissions, private philanthropy, including Lower Manhattan Cultural Council , Villa Waldberta-Munich, Kulturstiftung der Länder (Germany) and Cité des Arts (France). Désert established his Berlin studio in 2002.

TERESA MARÍA DÍAZ NERIO is a Dominican visual and performance artist and researcher living in Amsterdam. She graduated as a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (2007) and received her Master in Fine Arts from the Dutch Art Institute (2009). She does research often focused on subjects informed by the history of colonial and neocolonial invasions in the Global Southchallenging the hegemonic Eurocentric and US centric notions of who is who and what is what.

YOEL DÍAZ VÁZQUEZ was born in Havana, Cuba in 1973. Graduated from the National Academy of Fines Art San Alejandro, Havana, Cuba. His work has been exhibited extensively internationally, among the others in the exhibitions: Latido(Heartbeat), Contemporary Cuban Art at the Sternesen Museum, Oslo, Norway (2006);Arte e Vita, 11. Internationals Künstlersymposum, Barth, Germany (2007); Gallery Jesus Gallardo, Mexico (2008); Las Americas Latinas, Spazio Oberdam, Milan, Italia (2009); Confluencias, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM, USA (2009); 9na Bienal de Video Juan Downey, MAC, Quinta Normal, Chile (2009); 29th Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil (2010); VI Göteborg International Biennial, Sweden (2011); Other Possible Worlds, NGBK, Berlin (2011); In Other Words, NGBK, Berlin (2012); Wahala, at Savvy Contemporary, Berlin (2013). He is currently based in Berlin.

JEANNETTE EHLERS studied at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and The Funen Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. Her works explore the Danish enslavement trade and colonialism worldwide through digitally manipulated photographs and video installations. She lives and works in Copenhagen.

QUINSY GARIO is a spoken word performer and is currently following the MA program Comparative Women’s Studies in Culture and Politics at the Gender Studies Department of the University of Utrecht. He makes art under the banner of NON EMPLOYEES. He lives and works in Amsterdam.

CHRISTEL GBAGUIDI is an internationally active actor, theater pedagogue, director, and advisor for cultural and artistic management. He is a founding and board member of ANSA e.V., (Alumni Network Subsahara Africa) member of Africavenir  and is the founder of the initiative ARTS VAGABONDS DEUTSCHLAND working with adolescents, migrants, theater and social researchers from various fields organizing activities for development policy sensitization via methods of theater, dance, painting and music. In 2013, he organized the artistic project week “La République en huile – Die flüchtige Republik” with refugees from the protest camp at Oranienplatz Berlin.”

PATRICIA KAERSENHOUT developed an artistic journey in which she investigates her Surinamese background in relation to her upbringing in a West European culture. The political thread in her work raises questions about the African Diaspora movements and its relation to feminism, sexuality, racism and the history of enslavement. She has studied Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. She has participated in exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad and her work has been published in several publications. She just finished a major show in Amsterdam and is participating in The body Narratives (2014) in London. She lives and works in Amsterdam.

ALANNA LOCKWARD is an author, dancer, critic and independent curator specialized in time-based-undertakings from Santo Domingo, based in Berlin. She is the founding director of Art Labour Archives, an exceptional platform that has spiraled around the amalgamation of theory, political activism and aesthetics and has produced situation-specific art events and exhibitions, since 1996. She has been a guest lecturer at Humboldt University, Goldsmiths University of London, the University of Warwick and Utrecht University and is associated scholar of the DFG founded group Young Scholars Network Black Diaspora and Germany. She curates BE.BOP. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS @ a Ballhaus Naunynstrasse and is General Manager of the Transnational Decolonial Institute.

MEKONNEN MESGHENA is policy analyst and Department Head of Migration and Diversity at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Berlin, a think-tank affiliated with the German Green Party. He is a member of various Boards and NGOs across Europe—among others of the Board of Directors at the Migration Policy Group (Brussels) and member of the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Panel of the British Council in Germany. At the end of Eritrea’s War of Independence in 1991, Mekonnen Mesghena worked in restructuring Eritrean media and trained journalists.

BONAVENTURE NDIKUNG born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, is an independent art curator and biotechnologist. He has been living on and off in Berlin since 1997, where he studied Food Biotechnology in the University of Technology Berlin, did a doctorate in Medical Biotechnology in the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and a post-doctorate in Biophysics in Montpellier. He currently works, parallel to his activities as a curator, as a scientist in a medical device company.He is the founder and art director of the art space SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, where he has directed and curated exhibits with more than 60 artists from 5 continents.

JULIA ROTH has curated and organized since 2006 cultural-political events in cooperation with the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and Goethe Institute Buenos Aires, e.g. the theater festival/simposium “Frauen/Bilder der Amerikas in Bewegung” at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, 2010, Symposium “Lateinamerikas koloniales Gedächtnis. Vom Ende der Ressourcen, wie wir sie kennen”, Hebbel-am-Ufer Berlin 2010, “Rethinking Humboldt. Humboldt neu denken”, HBC Berlin, 2011, “Berlin-Buenos Aires. Erinnerung, Krise, Widerstand”, HBC Berlin, 2013. Since 2002 she is Board member of polarkreis e.V. (network of academics, artists and political actives), editor of polar magazine (Campus Verlag). She lives and works in Berlin and Bielefeld.

JAMIE SCHEARER works for ISD (Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland) als liason with the european and international networks of this Black diaspora organization. She directs the project European Network for People of African Descent and Black Europeans. She is also in charge of the ISD Berlin political group– Schwapo and is active in issues of racial profiling.


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