For the phoenix to find its form in us, Key-Visual, © Juan Pablo García Sossa
24. Jun2021-29. Aug2021Add to Calendar

For the Phoenix To Find Its Form in Us

Exhibitionifa Gallery BerlinLinienstraße 139-14010115 Berlin
Opening: 23.06.2021, 16:00 - 22:00
For the phoenix to find its form in us, Key-Visual, © Juan Pablo García Sossa

With: Pio Abad, Samia Henni, Jumana Manna, Oumar Mbengue Atakosso, Bhavisha Panchia, Michael Rakowitz

How does one complicate the current discourse on restitution, which seems to have manoeuvred itself into a cul de sac?
The debates centre the notion of return, thereby limiting the rather expansive and layered subject of restitution. The notion of return, as colloquially used, means going back to a particular geo-spatial space. But to return, one must have a sense of a space and time of departure. Which is to say one cannot think of restitution without thinking of the wounds that were inflicted upon dispossession at any given time, as well as the violences that accompany epistemic, material or human deprivation and destruction, as we see in Anglophone Cameroon, in Palestine, in Myanmar or in Colombia. One cannot reduce restitution to the return of objects while the people who are to receive these objects neither have the luxury of breathing, nor the lands on which to plant their seeds, or are deprived of the abode in which they shelter. So, how can one deliberate restitution in a context wherein time and space have not only changed but have become more precarious and the savagery of coloniality has assumed other forms?
With this project SAVVY Contemporary is dedicating a series of laboratories, invocations, publications, and exhibitions on the entanglements of the three key subjects restitution, rehabilitation, and reparation as a possibility of going beyond the notion of just return. Together with artists, writers, and other intellectuals and activists the intention is to reflect on notions of restoration – not only of the subjects/objects taken away from peoples and particular places, but also to think of a restoration of the peoples and places that have had to exist in a state of cultural and psychological deprivation. This demands to think of any form of restoration as a possibility of re-integration, and rehabilitation. Which is to say the possibility of re-accommodating beings once taken away into systems that have experienced both time and spatial shifts.
The project addresses the restitution debate from a different positionality within the German context and beyond, advocating for more inclusion of different perspectives and voices. Critically questioning and contemplating the role of European institutions and ethnological museums – examining precisely the political, economic and institutional contexts in which these organisations situate themselves – the creators wish to ponder the power structures, the asymmetries and the colonial continuities within the discourse. Confronting oneselves with possibilities of complicating the current discourse with situated reflections around issues of rehabilitation and reparation, the ifa Gallery Berlin strives to entangle the perspective of artists, activists, and engaged communities with the ones of scholars, researchers, and institutions: to offer a platform for a decentralised discussion able to include voices and positions across geographies and disciplinary perspectives.

A SAVVY Contemporary research, exhibition, performance and publication project in collaboration with Jameel Arts Center (Dubai), and ifa Gallery Berlin.

Listen to Things
More often than Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the bush that is sobbing:
This is the ancestors, breathing.

Birago Diop, 'Spirits'

Tuesday: The Phoenix

It is enough that you pass by words
For the phoenix to find its form in us,
And for the spirit born of its spirit to give birth to a body…
Spirit cannot do without a body
To fire with itself and for itself, cannot do without a body
To purge the soul of what it has hidden from eternity
So let's take fire, for nothing, but that we become one!

Mahmoud Darwish from 'The Seven Days of Love'


  • Team


    Artistic Director: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (SAVVY Contemporary)
    Curators: Elena Agudio, Arlette-Louise Ndakoze (SAVVY Contemporary), Nora Razian and Rahul Gudipudi (Jameel Arts Centre), Alya Sebti (ifa Gallery Berlin)


  • Team SAVVY Contemporary


    Exhibition Production: António Pedro Mendes
    Production Assistance: Billy Fowo
    Curatorial Assistance (Exhibition): Kelly Krugman, Meghna Singh
    Curatorial Assistance and Editing (Research and Bulletins): Sagal Farah, Meghna Singh  
    Coordination Laboratories: Billy Fowo
    Management: Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Lema Sikod
    Communication: Anna Jäger
    Graphic Design: Juan Pablo García Sossa
    Art Handling: Kimani Joseph, Rafal Lazar
    Light Design: Emilio Cordero
    Tech: Bert Günter

    Exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary

    Opening: 23.06.2021  14:00–22:00
    On view: 24.06.–22.08.2021, Thursday–Sunday 14:00–19:00
    With: Tanya Aguiñiga, Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Rand Abdul Jabbar, Nora Al-Badri, Memory Biwa, Benji Boyadgian, Hamze Bytyçi, Nora Chipaumire, Julien Creuzet, Ndidi Dike, HumboldtHuaca, Gladys Kalichini, Maurice Mboa, Senzeni Mthwakazi Marasela, Noara Quintana, Michael Rakowitz, Gabriel Rossell Santillán, Akram Zaatari, Saitabao Kaiyare & Elena Schilling

    Visit SAVVY Contemporary


  • Team ifa Gallery Berlin


    Co-directors: Inka Gressel & Susanne Weiß
    Exhibition Production: Stefano Ferlito, Ev Fischer, and Matthias Merker
    Digital Communication: Anna Giannessi


The project is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes), Art Jameel and ifa Gallery Berlin. The installation 'The invisible enemy should not exist' by Michael Rakowitz is made possible by courtesy of Galerie Barbara Wien.

Address and Opening Hours

ifa Gallery Berlin
Linienstrasse 139/140
D-10115 Berlin

Opening Hours

Tuesday – Sunday: 14.00 – 18.00
Thursday: 14.00 – 20.00
Closed on Mondays and holidays

Free admission

The current contact and hygiene guidelines apply. The opening of ifa Gallery Berlin will be subject to thecorona prevention measures in effect at the time.

ifa Galleries

The ifa Galleries show the visual arts, architecture and design of a globalized world. They have been addressing contemporary art and current cultural and socio-political developments in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe since 1971 in Stuttgart and since 1991 in Berlin. Exhibition series afford insight into art scenes all over the world and reach across national borders. Conversations, lectures and discussions allow visitors direct contact with artists and curators.

ifa Gallery Berlin

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ifa Gallery Berlin

Linienstraße 139/140
D-10115 Berlin

Telephone: +49.30.284491.40