deutsche Version
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by Jean-Paul Bourelly

Salvador de Bahia, Kingston, Jamaica, London, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and New York have been recognized as main ports of activity for Black Atlantic music today.
The central idea of CONGO SQUARE will be to define how slavery, industrialization and now the information age, transported African cultural aesthetics through time and space in writing, language and most prominently, music to arrive at the contemporary art forms converging in and around the centers of cultural life mentioned above.
It is a tribute to the resiliency and adaptivity of black culture that these elements have now become global. Through the immediacy of dialogue and spontaneous composition (better known as “improvisation”) CONGO SQUARE will reveal the anatomy and functionality of the Black Atlantic's consciousness.

Under the artistic direction of guitarist, composer, and conceptualist Jean-Paul Bourelly (former creator of the BACK ROOM), this project will serve as an arena to trigger those impulses that made the music of the Black Atlantic survive. It will reveal parts of the genetic pool of thoughts and emotions that build the art forms as well as new styles that have influenced trans-global cultures of today, viewing the state of Berlin as a new Black Atlantic cultural hub.

Finding common points of reference to interact in order to create a new language for new conditions was a vital striving impulse for the various cultures in surviving the trauma, isolation, and terror of slavery.
That impulse is, or might have been, at the origins of jazz music, salsa, samba, funk or probably any music resulting from the trans-African experience.
Through the dialogues and the creative flexibility of the artists involved, Congo Square will take a modernist view of where music may be headed in the future.

Short Artist list of some participants
Dou Dou N’ Diaye Rose
Archie Shepp
Jean-Paul Bourelly
DJ Spooky
Torch -rapper
D’Nice (formerly w. Boogie Down Productions)
Joe Bowie (Defunkt)
Tony Allen (Fela Kuti)
Cheick Tidiane Seck
Ayibobo (Hatian Voudou jazz)
Kim Clarke (Defunkt)

For more info contact Congo Square at:

Home/Programme/Program 2004/Details
Paul Gilroy
Curator's note
Home/Programme/Program 2004/Details
Shaheen Merali
Curatorial Statement
The making of an exhibition programme is both a private and public enterprise. It exemplifies by choice and site as much about the artists concerns and skills as well as the curators ambition and motivation. To deal with such a plethora of material, positionalities and substantial ideas, which are in due course to be introduced into the public domain can be daunting in its planning stage- for all unforeseen reasons from the technical failure of the method of delivery to its contextual flaws. But it is within this exciting frisson that contact will be established that assists in displacing doubts, subsequently allows amplifications beyond that which had been envisaged, planned or executed as "the exhibition".

In making exhibitions; curators, artists and organisations take a chance with the public- even with great planning the whole event remains unrehearsed and feels overwhelmingly experimental on various levels. It is in these embryonic conditions of "making" and "exhibiting" that establishes a forum within which both curators and artists find their space to enable a form of translation, explaination and make available their research, their work. Within the framework of the Black Atlantic interdisciplinary project all of these conditions of exhibition making became intertwined with burdened histories, intermingled positions about modernity and portable identities. Here, the curatorial position and the process of exploring the conceptual and critical terrain became itself a transcultural space. Here transatlantic diversity, forced movements of peoples and the longeviety of the pursuit of moral rectitude made the project seem highly urgent.

This sensation to promote its moral background especially within middle Europe has also substantially moulded its format, allowed and exposed an understanding beyond the logic of inside and outside. The outcome has been a series of decisions that allow for a more vital contemplation on the contemporary global environment. This vision of the global has been resolutely formulated by corollation with the local history and placing the local central to the discourse . Central to the works is the issue of contact. The artworks are committed to fostering a growing uncovering of the abundance of historic contact between divergent spaces, communities, and even continents. No place remains innocent or aloof from the networked global condition. The notion of contact helps us to deepen our collective understanding and rethink residues of historical facts including slavery, colonialism and the empirical quest for domination of peoples and resources. The exhibition exemplifies by digging for evidence and re-siting these unearthed remains to throw new light on the contemporary European Transatlantic relations.

What we know, why we know it and how we know it. Are the primary tools of excavation to construct a counter geography. Even the idea of belonging or national citizenship- these accepted norms and their ontologies are questioned- to demand a radical disjunction in the quest to re-imagine/ represent a different geopolitical arrangement. The Black Atlantic register, its framing helps us to reconfigure the given that has existed as different and difference. The works in the exhibition creatively helps to modify the way we look at the world - a way of visual comprehension and settle difference into a diasporic formation - which in itself specifies an important cultural formation.

One of the most important paradigms of human consciousness is "resistance" - to make us who we are, who we want to be and gives back a sense of humanity - realising a sense of power - these ideas/ notions feature in some of the artists work. Not necessarily as a romance of resistance, or of bravery but as a model of exchange around the experience of survival - in their visual vocabulary these artists articulate resistance as movements, or as moments and even constellations where a fact remembered is not only a fact imagined but the very act of re-invention.

Home/Programme/Program 2004/Details
Fatima El-Tayeb
Curator's note on the film programme
Film has arguably been the most influential medium of the 20th Century. Combining the immediacy of visual representation with the ability to convey complex narratives, films have been central in forming our perception of both our own world and those worlds too distant in time or space to directly experience them.

Movies, from the early days on, were also central in constructing black people as the Other - from ethnographic documentaries through the complex appropriation process of blackface to contemporary action movies, blackness has been an ever present feature of a visual culture shaped largely by moving images. At the same time, film always was an important means in the attempts of black artists like Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee or Julie Dash  to counter the flood of commodified blackness with their own images.

The Black Atlantic is a key theme in this culture of counter-representations, the site of a dialogue involving African, Afro-European and African American artists interacting with each other as well as with Hollywood or the luminaries of the European ethnographic tradition.

The immense influence moving images had and have on popular culture demand an inclusion of a film series in the Black Atlantic Project, while at the same time the popularity of the medium film at the same time promises to attract a large audience
The program will be divided in four blocs following the thematic lines of the project and using the time slots not taken by other events: each bloc consisting of Wednesday-Thursday-Friday sessions, two are scheduled for late September/early October, and two for late October/early November. Depending on the budget, all or most films will be introduced by experts from various fields, film historians, community activist, filmmakers: the four Friday screenings will be followed by panel discussions bringing together international as well as local artists and scholars.