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CANCELLED - KL: Katrin Pahl & Uwe Wirth: Grafts, Grafting, and Cultural Contact Zones - CANCELLED


Feb 02, 2021 from 06:00 to 08:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)

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Improbable Intimacy: Otobong Nkanga’s Grafts (Katrin Pahl) 

As part of a larger research project on treatments of sexualized and gendered violence in contemporary performance art, post-dramatic theater, dramatic literature and multi-media art practice, this piece turns to Otobong Nkanga’s installations and performances in order to probe those patterns of violence within the larger assemblage in which they participate, specifically colonial, racist and ecological violence. Through the lens of Nkanga’s artwork, I will explore what it takes to materialize as kin in unseen, and unheard-of forms of kinship beyond anthropocentrism such as human-vegetal grafts. Attending not only to the material logic of these operations and desires to graft but also to their emotional logic, I will explore self-grafting with regard to the histories of colonialism and sexualized violence sedimented in bodies and psyches.

In her artwork, the Nigerian-born artist who is based in Antwerp but has extensively explored Germany’s involvement in the global circulation of raw material and human bodies from its colonial past to its current role in the globalized world, concentrates on objects and environments that trigger memories, thoughts and feelings. She researches the variety of different uses that have turned these objects, living things, or environments into so-called “natural resources” and explores the multitude of cultural meaning connected to them, and then creates alternative networks of circulation and intimacy. Plants and stones are the main subjects or vectors of memory, exploration and projected circulation in Nkanga’s oeuvre. Her attention to plants, her incorporation of them in installations and performances, and her use of plant shapes in drawings and paintings is not meant metaphorically. Instead, her work reflects on the global movement of plant-based matter and creates the (physical and emotional/affective) space that 

allows for a communication with plants.


After Hybridity: Grafting as a Model for Cultural Translation (Uwe Wirth)

The notion of cultural translation as it was developed by postcolonial studies attempts to cope not only with the foreignness of language, but also with 'the other' as a foreigner. In order to overcome various shades of 'othering,' Homi Bhabha and other postcolonial theorists have conceptualized interactions between different cultures as processes of hybridization. 

I would like to propose an alternative model for describing processes of cultural translation, namely the model of grafting that has been used not only by Jacques Derrida as a metaphor for textual cut and paste operations, but also by Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher for the purpose of coming to terms with the foreignness of other languages as well as other cultures. I will try to apply the results of my presentation to a notion of contact zone that also takes into account the contact zones of grafting.



// Prof. Dr. Katrin Pahl (Johns Hopkins University, USA) & Prof. Dr. Uwe Wirth (JLU Giessen)