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TALK: The City And Its Displaced Imaginary

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 6:30 pm

The City And Its Displaced Imaginary

A talk between Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew and Juliana dos Santos

Language: English/Portuguese (with translation into English)

Drastic modernization activities have been taking place in many city spaces and places in the Global South. The discussion “The city and its displaced imaginary” will offer a comparative inquiry of urban locations in São Paulo, Brazil and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With a focus on artistic interventions that open up a space to imagine the city, the occupation of public spaces and the dislocation of the view, possible counter images through a reading of modernization projects and their sociocultural implications will be proposed.

Three urban locations in Addis Ababa and two public spaces in São Paulo will be scrutinized with the questions: “Whose modernization?”, “ Why not fishes?” and “Here, why not yellow?”. A translation of the lost potential within these spaces currently under construction will be undertaken. How do these interventions contribute to memory construction, access to natural landscapes and the participation of the population in the city? Modernization activities are associated with forms of new memory construction, which always require a certain critical level of mediation and negotiation throughout the process. It is also undeniable that the development of urban infrastructures, ultimately benefit city inhabitants. But it becomes a critical concern and cause for contention when various common urban sites are lost in translation; neighborhoods continue to be separated, the social fabric has actively been distorted, historical houses and architectures got demolished.
These counter images Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew and Juliana dos Santos propose, are manifested desires speaking about the comfort of being in a savaged city: hard, grey an concrete. They ask: How can we imagine colors and possible forms in the urban visuality of precariousness and dehumanization?

Berhanu Ashagrie is an Ethiopian visual artist and a lecturer at the Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. Berhanu has also served the fine art school as a Director for nearly four years starting from 2012. He graduated with BFA from the same school and further studied and graduated with MA in Fine Arts from Utrecht Graduate School of the Arts in the Netherlands. He has been critically engaged with various individual and collective artistic projects inside and outside studio environment. Multidisciplinary creative outcomes of his projects have been shown in different countries; some of which are Ethiopia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Georgia, Italy, Greece and Spain. In the last few years, Berhanu has actively been working on issues that come along with change / development / transformation / modernization activities of urban spaces and places and the human conditions in it. Among others Berhanu has participated in Julie Mihretu ‘The Addis Show’ Addis Ababa / Ethiopia, Bamako Biennale ‘Telling Time’ Bamako / Mali, International Festival ‘Future Nows’ Berli,n / Germany, Video_Brasil ‘Southern Panoramas’ São Paulo / Brazil, European Forum Alpbach, Seminar ‘Inequality’ Alpbach / Austria, International Conference ‘Future Memories’ Addis Ababa / Ethiopia, Institute of Spatial Experiments ‘Acting Archives’ Berlin / Germany, International Conference ‘Sounds of Change’ Addis Ababa / Ethiopia, Collective Public Art Project ‘Moving Societies’ Addis Ababa / Ethiopia, Tbilisi Triennial ‘Offside Effect’ Tbilisi / Georgia, Studio Olafur Eliasson ‘You’re here is Our Here’ Berlin / Germany.

Juliana dos Santos is a visual artist based in São Paulo (Masters at Universidade Estadual Paulista). She works as an art mediator at the Museu Afro Brasil in São Paulo. Her artistic production encompasses actions and interventions in public spaces. She is also utilizing hybrid techniques and methods in context with digital and analog pho¬tography, drawings and media based reproductions of images of the black and female body in performative contexts. She is the coordinator of the network of Afroamerican Studies NEPAFRO (Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Afro-Americanos). Juliana dos Santos participated among others in „ A representação do Negro nas Artes Visuais, SESC Vila Mariana (2014) and De|Generadas, a set of activities offering a comprehensive mosaic of recent cultural activities related to gender equality issues, SESC Santana (2015) and “Weiterleben | In anderen Worten über Leben?/ Living On | In other Words on Living? At xhibit, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 2016.

The talk is being organized in the frame of the exhibition Weiterleben | In anderen Worten über Leben?“/ Living On | In Other Words on Living? at xhibit, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna


1. Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew, Mexico / Maychew Square: Historical public monument located at the Maychew square, later renamed as Mexico square, brutally demolished in 2014 through the states’ aggressive developmental activity.

2. Juliana dos Santos, “Here lies a river “/ “Jaz Aqui Um Rio”, Intervention in public space, 2013


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