Emeka Ogboh

PLAYBACK – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Original caption: Delegations from 30 independent African nations get together at heads of state conference here. The conference, which opened May 22, was climaxed May 25 by the signing of a charter for a new organization of African.
Heads of State Conference, May 1963, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; © Bettmann/CORBIS

The ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) conceived the artistic competition for the Peace and Security building of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The exhibition PLAYBACK provides insight into the winning project by the Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh.

The exhibition, curated by Christina Werner, is based on the sound and archival materials the artist has assembled for the installation in Addis Ababa. Emeka Ogboh merges historical speeches broadcast by the Ethiopian radio network on the occasion of the founding ceremony of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963, with newly arranged compositions and his own sound recordings to form a multi-part installation. With reference to the principle of "Unity in Diversity" the artist develops an adaptation of the anthem of the African Union based on translations into the various vernacular languages. In the form of a dynamic archive of voices, sounds and thoughts, the installation engages with the past and present of the association of African states, with its pan-African visions and rhetorical expressions.

The jury, presided and moderated by the artist Olafur Eliasson, brought together experts from across Africa. The jury’s decision was preceded by a three-day conference entitled Future Memories, which provided a forum to discuss cultures of memory and the significance of art in public spaces in African contexts. The conference was jointly conceived and organised by the ifa and the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Addis Ababa, and financed by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Poster for the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This poster was seen in Addis Ababa during the conference. It shows portraits of the 31 participating heads of government; © dpa
Playback, 2015; © Victoria Tomaschko

Sound sample
Emeka Ogboh: PLAYBACK – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz, 2016. (Sound excerpt)
© Emeka Ogboh / Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e. V. (ifa)



Addis Ababa: Inauguration and Artist Talk

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Exhibition booklet

Emeka Ogboh

PLAYBACK – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Berlin: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), 2015. – 25 S. – download

Sound installation booklet

Emeka Ogboh

SONIC COMMUNITARY – The African Union: 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Berlin: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), 2016. – 25 S. – download

ifa Gallery Berlin

Linienstraße 139/140
D-10115 Berlin
Phone +49.30.284491.40

Tuesdays – Sundays 2 – 6 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and on holidays


Playback, 2015; © Victoria Tomaschko

Interview with Emeka Ogboh

C& | Conversation about his installation in Addis Ababa and the soundscapes of Lagos and Berlin.

Future Memories

International conference and online publication on art, public space and the culture of memory.