Two Berlin Filmmakers Reflect on Germany’s Racial Dynamics

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism on 2018-08-03 18:34Z by Steven

Two Berlin Filmmakers Reflect on Germany’s Racial Dynamics

Hyperallergic
2018-08-03

Adela Yawitz
Berlin, Germany


Natasha A. Kelly, Millis Erwachen/Milli’s Awakening (2018), video, b/w, sound, 45′, video still (courtesy Natasha A. Kelly)

In their films at the Berlin Biennial, Natasha A. Kelly and Mario Pfeifer address the growing divide in Germany between the politics of liberal inclusion and on-the-ground ignorance, racism, and suppression.

BERLIN — The 10th edition of the Berlin Biennale opened in June. Ambitious yet unpretentious, the exhibition features 46 artists across 5 venues. The Biennale’s curator, Gabi Ngcobo, and her team create a setting for perceiving and relating to the artworks on view with little layering of textual analysis and without tying them explicitly to the artists’ biographies. In fact, the Biennale omits general information regarding artists’ nationalities and dates of birth. This is refreshing, not because it implies that the artworks should stand on their own, but as a political signal against the convention of touting artists’ diversity as a symbol of the institution’s progressive politics or post-colonial criticality. At this Biennale, artists — and curators — of color are the majority, yet this alone is not its primary subject nor its intention…

…In Milli’s Awakening (2018), artist and academic activist Natasha A. Kelly weaves together portraits of eight Afro-German women of different generations. Their lives have all been touched by art, in one way or another, and many of them tell stories of structural barriers and marginalization in and out of the art world. MacirĂ©, an activist from Bremen recounts how she understood in retrospect that her film, shown at the local museum, had been used to legitimate the exhibition as a whole by providing a non-white, critical perspective. She has since decided to invest in working for her own community, not for the white audiences of the Kunsthalle. Diana from Bavaria, who identifies as intersex, recalls taking refuge in photography to overcome her discomfort with her own body as a teenager. And the artist Maseho reads from her tongue-in-cheek guide for Black POCs traveling in Germany; she advises saving time by telling Germans you are from “USA” or “Afrika,” since other answers would devastate their view of the world…

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