In the 19th century Alexander von Humboldt held his KOSMOS lectures in the Berlin Singakademie – today's Maxim Gorki Theatre. He brought knowledge from various countries back to Berlin and reported on his trips around the world. During the season 2015/16, with the series KOSMOS², curated by Grada Kilomba, Gorki grappled in the course of ten events with issues of knowledge transfer and knowledge production today. Who has access to knowledge and the opportunity to share it, and if so, then what knowledge? Who talks to whom, and about what?
In KOSMOS² artists whose lives have been shaped by fleeing gave lectures. They live in Berlin, but their knowledge cannot find a way into the conventional academic or cultural-institutional spaces for the dissemination of knowledge. At the opening of the series during the Herbstsalon with three events, artists provided insight into their work. The author, theorist and interdisciplinary artist Grada Kilomba gave an introduction into the topics and moderated the talks.
KOSMOS² LABOR #1: Knowledge
Through her lecture performance Decolonizing Knowledge Grada Kilomba gave an introduction into the topic of the series KOSMOS² on 14 November 2015. Using a collage of her literary and artistic work, she raised questions concerning knowledge, race, and gender: Who can speak? and What can we speak about? To touch this colonial wound, Kilomba created a hybrid space, transforming the configurations of knowledge and power.
KOSMOS² LABOR #2: Film
With Sina Ataeian Dena and Richard Djimeli speaking with Grada Kilomba. Sunday, November 22, 6:00 pm
Two film directors discussed their work: Sina Ataeian from Iranand and Richard Djimeli from Cameroon. Ataeian was born in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war. After he broke off his physics studies, he began studying art in Tehran. Over a period of three years he shot his first feature film, PARADISE, in Iran without official permission. Djimeli was tortured after the premiere of his film satire about President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 33 years, and was forced to leave Cameroon. In 2013, he submitted an application for asylum in Germany, which was denied.
KOSMOS² LABOR #3: Music
The third evening explored forms of emancipative knowledge through music. Guests were two very distinct singers, Lian Khalaf from Syria and Samee Ullah from Pakistan who gave an insight into their work. Lian Khalaf is a rapper whose music became of great importance during the Spring Revolution in 2009, in Syria. He writes and raps his songs in both Arabic and Kurdish. Samee Ullah worked as an aircraft engineer for several years before startinghis career as an actor and singer. His first work on stage was Do Butterflies have Borders, followed by the play Letters Home by the Refugee Club Impulse where he plays a starring role and sings traditional songs in Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, Hindi and English. Both musical productions played acrucial part on the visibility of asylum politics.