Listening at Pungwe (Memory Biwa & Robert Machiri) — A SACRED STORY AT THE TREE OF LIFE at ifa Gallery Berlin

Starting during Berlin Art Week and over a period of six weeks, ifa Gallery Ber-lin transforms into a portal for the platform, Listening at Pungwe. The collaborative project of Memory Biwa and Robert Machiri, pivots on circulatory aural imaginings and practices in southern Africa to produce publics and alternative spaces of sociality. In the spirit of Pungwe all are invited to this communion to voice and plot together over meals, listening and movement.

Exhibition: 15 September – 22 October 2023
Opening: 14 September 2023, 19:00

Press images are available in the press section of ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.

A SACRED STORY AT THE TREE OF LIFE takes the form of an ephemeral installation centered on the inscription and significance of landscapes and spaces through memory and ceremony. The shade of the baobab, the sacred tree, becomes the gathering place where we commune with poets, rioters, storytellers, vocalists, players of instruments, and DJs. Pungwe is an occasion where sound system culture is approached as a mo(nu)ment of auditory, corporeal and sociocultural frequencies. The platform traces spatiality through a complex web of movements that are often embodied and transferred through sound.

The title echoes Sanusi Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa’s Chapter, ‘The Sacred Story of the Tree of Life’, in "Indaba My Children: African Tribal History, Legends, Customs and Religious Beliefs", Canongate Books Ltd, Edinburgh, 1998, first published in 1964.

Participating artists: Listening at Pungwe, Jumoke Adeyanju‚ blk banaana , Banji Chona, Malik Ntone Edjabe, Percy Zvomuya, Elsa M’Bala, Melanelle B. C. Hémêfa, Day Eve & Savanna Morgan et al.

Curatorial Ensemble:  Memory Biwa, Robert Machiri, Jumoke Adeyanju, Nikola Hartl

Memory Biwa is a historian, and artist. Her work addresses memorial and reparative processes in Namibia, which encompasses a wider discourse on restitution and reparations. Biwa’s focus on oral narratives and performance informs notions of subjectivity and the re-centering of alternative epistemologies and imaginaries.

Robert Machiri is a sound artist and hoarder of sound-related objects. Machiri’s work exists at the juncture of two streams of practice; curatorial concepts founded through the notion of conviviality and art as pedagogy. Biwa and Robert Machiri form the duo, Listening at Pungwe.


Between 14 and 17 September, Listening at Pungwe will open the space with a Pungwe, host Poetry Meets with Jumoke Adeyanju, and a collage workshop by blk banaana. Followed by more collaborative events in October and a finissage on Saturday 21 October.

Opening with Pungwe
Thursday, 14 September, 19:00

Live Music, Performance, DJ-Sets with Listening at Pungwe, Malik Ntone Edjabe, Nikola Hartl, Jumoke Adeyanju

Launch of Sound Installation
Friday, 15 September, 14:00 - 18:00

Poetry Meets
Saturday, 16 September, 19:00

Hosted by Jumoke Adeyanju
with Elsa M’Bala, Melanelle B. C. Hémêfa, Day Eve, Savanna Morgen 

On Saturday 16 September the Poetry Meets Series, a creative space for local and international artists that has been shaking up the scene since 2014 will be landing at ifa Gallery Berlin. Beyond sounds, verses as harmony, poetry as dance: across disciplines, arts, genres and languages, the platform unleashes new potentials in the interplay of poetry, music and dance. Hosted by curator and artist Jumoke Adeyanju, For this session Jumoke Adenyanju will bring together Elsa M’Bala, Melanelle B. C. Hémêfa, Day Eve & Savanna Morgan and maybe another special guest.

Strange Routes: Collage Workshop
Sunday, 17 September, 16:00 - 19:00

by and with blk banaana

On Sunday 17 September the Strange Routes - Collage Workshop facilitated by blk banaana invites the public to consider the significance and role of plant life in nature and in our livelihoods. This workshop asks: how can the technology of trees and plants assist us in imaginatively visualizing ourselves as nodes in a collective network or organism through space/time. Making use of symbolic images as data, this workshop encourages participants to create collages that can make up parts of a rhizomatic structure, and that might represent the self, past selves, future selves and Other selves, and engage with the physical/metaphysical, ancestral, historical and political aspects that exemplify our connections.

For the workshop please register under: ifa-galerie-berlin(at)

Re_Storing Space
Friday, 13 October

by and with Banji Chona

On Friday 13.October, the audience will be witness to a intervention in the gallery space by storage facility, storyteller, and alchemist Banji Chona. At the core of her practice is the exploration of and dialogue between Ancestral Zambezian** Earth, Present-day and Projected Future(s).

Abschluss / Finissage
Samstag, 21. Oktober, 17:00

Mit Rob Machiri, Percy Zvomuya & anderen

On Saturday 21. October everyone is invited to close the cycle with the finissage of A SACRED STORY AT THE TREE OF LIFE with interventions and musical explorations by Percy Zvomuya, Robert Machiri & others.

In context of Berlin Art Week 2023

Mit Unterstützung des Berliner Künstlerprogramm

About ifa

ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen promotes a peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue and conference programmes, and it acts as a centre of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships. ifa is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.

About the ifa Galleries

Die Galerien des ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in Stuttgart und Berlin zeigen zeitgenössische Kunst aus einer globalen Perspektive. Postkoloniale Bewegungen werden ebenso in den Blick genommen wie künstlerische Reflexionen zu den Themen Migration, Umwelt und kulturelle Transfers. Die Welt aus einer Vielfalt und Pluralität von Perspektiven zu betrachten und neu zu erzählen, ist dabei zu einer Arbeitsweise geworden, mit der die ifa-Galerien emanzipatorische Prozesse, Interaktionen und künstlerische Räume gestalten. Im Zentrum steht dabei die Entwicklung von langfristigen Beziehungen mit Künstler:innen, Partner:innen und Besucher:innen. Die Ausstellungen und Vermittlungsprogramme entstehen in einer gemeinschaftlichen Arbeitsweise, in der globale Verflechtungen aufgespürt und in einer anderen Erzählweise neu zusammengesetzt werden.

Contact and opening hours ifa Gallery Berlin

ifa-Galerie Berlin

Alya Sebti und Inka Gressel
Gallery directors

Linienstraße 139/140
10115 Berlin

Instagram: @ifagalleryberlin

Tuesday – Sunday 14:00 - 18:00
Thursday14:00 - 20:00

Admission free

Press contact

Corinna Wolfien
Books Communication Art
+49(0)175 5676046


ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen
Miriam Kahrmann
Head of Communications
 +49(0)7112225 105