Artist Talk "Memory"

Thursday, January 17, 2013, 19:00

Christophe Ndabaniye, artist and Prof. Dr. Johannes Fabian, cultural anthropologist

Artist talk: Memory ( in German) 

The artist Christophe Ndabananiye speaks with Prof. Johannes Fabian about "Ukumbusho". The Swahili word "Ukumbusho" roughly means "memory, that triggers thoughts" or "remembrance" and plays a central role in the art of Christophe Ndabananiye. In his current exhibition "Überreste" ("Remnants") the artist, who was born in D.R. Congo and studied in Rwanda, deals with his own identity and history as an artist with Rwandan roots. He entertains a longstanding friendship with anthropologist Dr. John Fabian joins Christophe Ndabananiye and both enjoy long talks, often in Swahili.

Chistophe Ndabananiye spent his school years in Kigali, where he lived with his family. In 1991, he was admitted at the Art School (École d'Art de Nyundo) in Rwanda at the age of 14 years and studied there until the building was destroyed by the 1994 genocide. Since 1995 he has been living in Germany. In the fall of 2011 he went back to his homeland Rwanda for several months . He looked for former classmates and was inspired by the local people, the countryside, the cities and the arts.

With its conceptual approach Christophe Ndabananiye translates his personal memories and currently uncovered traces into his own visual language and presents it to us in photographs and painted pictures, which he builds up of layers of spar varnish and acrylic in a proprietary process.

Prof. Dr. Johannes Fabian began his anthropological field work in Katanga in 1966, the home region of the artist. As one of the first anthropologists, he integrated the concept of popular culture in the research of contemporary African culture. He examined the effects of religious beliefs, language, painting, theater and working in urban contexts.

During his stays in the Shaba region of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Johannes Fabian met many people who said that images had the means to activate memory and reflection. In his book "Moments of Freedom. Anthropology and Popular Culture" (1998) he consequently talks about function of memory ("art of memory") and discussion of an artwork.

Cultural anthropologist Prof. Dr. Fabian taught at Northwestern University, Wesleyan University, the Université Nationale du Zaire and at the University of Amsterdam. Among other positions, he was Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and at the Getty Center, California.