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Nathalie Bikoro

Nathalie Bikoro: When The Hero Disrobes Her Armour Giving Birth To Quiet Revolutions

June 25, 3:30-5:30 PM, The Museum of Contemporary Art, yard


For the installation-performance “When The Hero Disrobes Her Armour Giving Birth To Quiet Revolutions” items of contemporary refugee clothes worn on flight (and sold in markets in Berlin) form a pile in the middle of the museum courtyard. The clothes en masse represent a bigger narrative of migration and nationality as well as the resistance against oppression by the nation state and the political regime in the country the person migrated from. Each item is selected, worn, washed in red color and cut into the shape of kites by the artist. Gradually these clothes are removed to create a pile in the center of a concentric sound installation with megaphones. These kites may fly or not but they are a stark monument of the paradigm of migration, identity and border-crossing. The kite is a symbol or a memory that creates new birth for oppositions and alternative ways of understanding the spirit of nomadism. The repetition of recorded voices from colonial camps - human zoos, labor camps, where anthropological and film experiments took place - erected during first and second world war in Germany, becomes an alarm call to agency and urgency not only for the past but for contemporary life.

During Bikoro’s personal research for the project “Squat Monument” in Berlin 2015, within the collection of colonial voices housed in the LautArchiv at Humboldt Berlin and Basler Afrikanisher Bibliographen, she has exposed unexpected finds; the voices of female resistance movements speaking from colonial camps (where normally only male voices were recorded), from universities, movie sets, human zoos and in German settlements in Namibia. These are played throughout the performance-installation “When The Hero Disrobes Her Armour Giving Birth To Quiet Revolutions”.

Unexplored and neglected for many decades, these voices speak about freedom, memory, resistance and poetry. The voices in the megaphones gradually change over the course of the action. Bikoro mixes these historical voices of resistance with contemporary recordings from markets in Yaounde. These markets define territories of political resistance, union and organization through the voices of women selling goods. Each voice describes items, chants emancipation rights, and political oppositions. A sonorous geography of migration as resistance. 

Nathalie Bikoro is from Gabon (1985), she holds a PhD in Political philosophy, media arts and development of Africa from Greenwich University in London. She has exhibited at the 10th Dak’Art Biennale, won the international prizes of Fondation Blachere France and Afrique Soleil, Mali. Bikoro is also performance curator at Savvy Contemporary in Berlin.


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Julie Damgaard Nielsen