ORIENTierungsplan (ORIENTation Plan)

Berlin; August 2020 - December 2020.

“ORIENTierungsplan is a series of discussions that decentre Euro-American productions of knowledge as the norm of focus, instead opting to spotlight voices from a region regularly finding itself at the periphery of conversation: West Asia and North Africa (or MENA). Curated and chaired by Erkan Affan, ORIENTierungsplan is a monthly discussion in which activists, artists and researchers living in Berlin will be invited to speak on a field in which they organize, create and work; subverting Western discursive supremacy and instead focusing on alternative productions, analyses and pedagogies of #KNOWLEDGE.

The population of countries and societies belonging to the predominant Western world and culture has been summarized under the acronym WEIRD – “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic”—however, the members of these WEIRD societies are among the least representative populations in the world in terms of numbers. With its exploration called #KNOWLEDGES, the COLLECTIVE PRACTICES program puts its focus on practices that question and turn WEIRD paradigms upside down, break up and recombine them, bring together different cultural approaches to knowledge generation, and address questions such as (among others) how to critically question established hegemonic Western methods (primarily visual and discursively defined) and processes of knowledge production.“

Bärenzwinger Gallery

Bezirksamt von Mitte Berlin
Amt für Weiterbildung und Kulture
Berlin; November 2020 - February 2021.

Open Sesame:
What did Ali Baba see when he opened the doors of the cave using the magic words, “open sesame”? What had been stolen and hidden by the thieves in the darkness? As the story of Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves unfolds, we’re confronted with the realities of how far one may go to claim another’s treasures as their own. As the curatorial team and commissioned artists of this season at the Bärenzwinger, we’re no strangers to such an act. Our experiences as Black, Indigenous and Racialised Majority individuals – as well as the subsequent intersections of queer and transness* that we navigate – mean that we witness time & time again how the very treasures of our antiquities, our recent pasts, our current embodiments, and even our projected futures are erased, entrapped and paraded against our will. Similar to the tale of Ali Baba, the Thieves of our stories coercively enter into and co-opt our spaces – claiming and controlling access to our treasures as they so wish.

A Photophobic Experiment
What are these new meanings that we would like to employ?

Welcome to our photophobic experiment. If photo means light and phobia means fear, then photophobia is the light that they fear. Our world is understood, measured and influenced by the discourses of the Enlightenment. Art, science and philosophy – the cognitive auxiliaries of humanity that one uses to understand the world – have been pathologized in our surroundings to centre the experiences of the White, cisgender, heterosexual male. From the lessons taught in schools to the paintings exhibited in museums, the dominant view is one that is determined by the points of ‘knowledge’ spread to us via this age of Enlightenment.

But what came before the Enlightenment? What deviations from knowledge have there been? Have we – the Others - not created alternative productions of knowledge, or nurtured rays of Light that have shone through the crevices of the human experience to illuminate a multiplicity of paths that can be taken ahead? We have been erased – in our past and our present, but we refuse to accept this for our future. This Photophobic Experiment is an opportunity to centre our meanings, our experiences, our lived modalities, as the epicentre around which a plot develops. We are the protagonists, who invade this space and its hostile architecture to provide a glimpse into a world that presents us as the wilful subject of focus. Until now the Enlightenment continues to push us into the Dark, but we have found our own forms of Light in the shadows.