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Thursday, 18.06.2021

Chapter N: Every Grain and Bone Has a Name Too.

Donna Kukama


Donna Kukama’s site-specific series presents an

ephemeral (hi)story book for those who absolutely need to be

remembered. It is a communing of the memories of bodies that have

been placed on the margins of historical meta-narratives. Each

performance/intervention is conceived as a chapter, and each

chapter's title is non-chronologically named after a letter from the

modern English alphabet.

For Territories Under My Skin, Kukama presented Chapter N: Every

Grain and Bone Has a Name Too. The chapter revisits Germany's

colonial history in Africa, and does so through a historical narration that

has been fictionalized. For this chapter, she layered maps of Berlin’s

“African Quarter” the African continent as fragmented territories

resulted from a series of violent re-organization and renaming following

the 1884 Berlin conference. The characters in the narration are food

products found in a shop in Wedding (Berlin), where the African

Quarter is located. Through her voice the food 'speaks back' in a game

of ‘Masekitlana’*. The narration navigates questions around naming

and land dispossession, and switches between the historical, the

absurd, and the poetic, while flattening the distance between

geographical locations and events. It deliberately merges the past with

the present in order to fuse imagined triumphs with factual stories.

*Kekae-Moletsane (2008, p. 368) describes Masekitlana as “a

traditional seSotho game that is mostly played by children in South

African townships and rural areas. It is a monologue play, played by

one child at a time, alone or while other children are listening

attentively. During play children usually relate stories about things that

worry or excite them, things they imagine, their wishes, things they

detest, things about people they detest, and things around them.”



Donna Kukama is a transdisciplinary artist and creative researcher whose

practice presents institutions, books, monuments, gestures of protest, and

economies that are as real as they are fictitious. Shifting between

performance, video, text, sound, and multimedia installations, her practice

takes on a form that is experimental, with the aim to subvert how histories and

value systems are constructed. Kukama acquired a Masters of Arts in the

Public Sphere from the Ecole Cantonale Arts du Valais in Switzerland in

2008 and is currently a PhD candidate at the Transart Institute and Liverpool

John Moores University. She has exhibited and presented performances at

several notable institutions and museums, including the Nottingham

Contemporary in Nottingham, Kunsthal KaDe in Amersfoort, Padiglione

Arte Contemporanea Milano in Milan, South African National Gallery in

Cape Town, Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp, Tate Modern in London,

nGbK in Berlin, and the New Museum in New York. She was recently a guest

professor at the HBK Braunschweig (2019-2020) and has worked as a faculty

member in the Department of Visual Arts at the Wits School of Arts (University

of Witwatersrand) since 2011. She lives and works between Berlin

and Johannesburg.

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