Exodus Stations #2

Working with the Ulli Beier Archive
- Research and Public Colloque -

30th November 2017 Iwalewahaus Bayreuth, Germany
Contributors: Lena Naumann, Katharina Greven, Smooth Ugochukwu-Nzewi, Sam Hopkins, Nadine Siegert, Catarina Simão, Hervé Trioreau.

The Colloquim problematises and questions the collecting methodology of the Beiers.  It also takes into consideration their way to promote contemporary arts in Nigeria and how they related the different types of arts and crafts collected. Their collections of Nigerian folk art (Ulli Beier’s collection was housed in the palace of Oshogbo and his exhibition on Yoruba Pottery was shown 1972 at the University of Ife), practices of documenting, saving, art collecting, teaching and promoting of both ‘traditional’ and modern art resulted in a diverse collection with items from geographical areas like Nigeria, India and Papua New Guinea. Today, the collection, the archives and the Beier estate of Iwalewahaus are manifold and contain painting, graphic and textile collections, ethnographical objects, a music archive and documentary material.

The accompanying seminar invites artists, curators and academics to discuss their own perspective of working with archives, collections and the Iwalewahaus in particular. The same corpus will be shared with the seminar participants as a starting point for the discussion.

Under focus will be following questions:

  • The visual (self)-representation of Beier in the Nigerian context – as a founding figure and art patron.
  • The formulation of a modern aesthetic in Oshogbo and its relation to tradition.
  • The early years of Iwalewahaus and its conceptualisation as a ‘contact zone’ – a space for transcultural encounters between the Global South and the Global North that also merged public and private space.
  • Ulli Beier’s, Georgina Beier’s and Susanne Wenger’s own cultural production.
  • The introducing of Nigerian artworks into the international exhibition context and the museum context of Iwalewahaus.
  • The ambivalence of Iwalewahaus as both a space of exotization and approximation Methodologies of work with archival material.

We want to reflect – departing from the Iwalewahaus collection and the Ulli Beier estate – on the consequences of artistic practices that re-connote and re-frame archival material. How is every new framing of the material a new invention that also writes history? Which were the methodological tools Beier used in his first art exhibitions in the Iwalewahaus and which are the tools we develop today in relation to this archival material? Which was and is today the role of art patrons in ambiguous cultural contexts connected to a colonial past, taking into consideration practices of intervention, translation and appropriation?