Spinning Triangles

Spinning Triangles: Ignition of a School of Design was a long term project by S A V V Y Contemporary in 2019 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. With a many-headed and many-handed team, we attempted to challenge and act against the inherent, neocolonial power structures in design practices, theory and teaching by spiralling the project between three spaces: Germany (Dessau and Berlin), D. R. Congo (Kinshasa) and China (Hongkong).

The project started in Dessau, where Van Bo Le-Mentzel opened a new Tinyhouse, the “Wohnmaschine”: a miniature clone of the workshop wing of the Dessau Bauhaus building. S A V V Y Contemporary inhabited these four walls, but also invited guests in order to negotiate space and property and question the complex heritage of modernity. We attempted to face some of the relations of coloniality and design as well as its various visibilities and invisibilities.

Its second iteration accelerated the thinking and design process through a symposium and workshops in Kinshasa. Various actors of former colonies met to raise the question how we can, in a world where all too many, still active modernist masterplans have failed, conceive our everyday environments in order to make a collective future possible – and through which philosophies. From this and through discussion rounds, a viable concept for a school of design was debated and questioned for a furthering in other geographies, leading to the third spinning.

In Berlin, the “school” that might as well be called an “un-school,” activated itself in Berlin. With forty participants and five guests from Kinshasa, we sought to make the deep entanglements between modernity and coloniality explicit and question their repercussions for “world-making”. During processes of thinking and making forms of co-living and co-creating were negotiated and led to several engagements, with public open days at the end of the process.

The fourth and last reversal took place in Hong Kong, in collaboration with the art space Para Site. Rather than pretending to reach any conclusions, we recognize that this reversal was another opening to the topics at stake in Spinning Triangles, with further spirallings and shapeshiftings in the future.

Design has power. It creates our environments, our interactions, our being in the world. For too long, practices and narratives from the “Global South” have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated. This needs to change. And it can only do so if we start with new forms of learning and unlearning, that may perhaps actually be very old, but have certainly been overheard for far to long.

Curator and Concept: Elsa Westreicher
Co-Curator: Arlette-Louise Ndakoze
Artistic Director: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Curatorial Advice: Elena Agudio
Curatorial Assistance: António Mendes, Jorinde Splettstößer
Curatorial Research: Raisa Galofre, Lili Somogyi
Management: Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Lema Sikod
Management Assistance: Clara Brandt, Jennifer Leung, Sadya Mizan, Fanny Souade Sow
Communications: Anna Jäger

Image 1: Quote from the concept.
Image 2: The "Wohnmaschine" by Van Bo Le-Mentzel in front of the Bauhaus Dessau. Photo: Mirko Mielke
Image 3: Workshop with Cheick Diallo in Kinshasa at Ndaku Ya La Vie Est Belle. Photo: S A V V Y Contemporary
Image 4: Presentations in Berlin at S A V V Y Contemporary. Photo: S A V V Y Contemporary
Image 5: Workshop with Bonaventure Ndikung in Hongkong at Parasite. Photo: S A V V Y Contemporary

More Information: Overall, Dessau, Kinshasa, Berlin, Hongkong

Contributors: Sinzo Aanza, Maria Isabel Alves, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Aouefa Amoussouvi, Arjun Appadurai, Jose Bamenikio, Banka (Jonathan Bongi, Jean Kemba, Elie Mbansing, Malaya Rita, Jean-Jacques Tankwey), Bildhauerwerkstatt des BBK, Chabela, Christian Benimana, Kate Danyu Chen, Cosmin Costinas, DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency), Decolonising Design (Luiza Prado, Pedro Oliveira), Cheick Diallo, Eddy Ekete, Caroline Ektander, Olani Ewunnet, Lamin Fofana, *foundationClass (Ulf Aminde and Miriam Schicker), Marc Herbst, Iviart Izamba, Henri Kalama, Saskia Köbschall, Uta Koloczek Keramik, Koyo Kouoh, KUNCI School of Improper Education, Kunst im Kontext (Santiago Calderon, Kristina Leko, Alessandra Plaza a.o.), Van Bo Le-Mentzel, Lisanga Bankoko (Lema Diandandila, Mavita Kilola, Mbo Mbula, Lutadila Lukombo), Saki Mafundikwa, Dominique Malaquais, Malaysia Design Archive, Simon Malueki, Edna Martinez, Lambert Mousseka, Henrike Naumann, Oracle Ngoy, Cedrick Nzolo, Ahmet Öğüt, Colette Poupie Onoya, Eliana Otta, Tabita Rezaire, Henrique Roscoe, Sophie Rzepecky, Lorenzo Sandoval, Eda Sarman, Schwarzdruck (Marc Berger), Simon Soon, Juan Sossa, Tau Tavengwa, Ema Tavola, We Make It (Franziska Brandt and Moritz Grünke), Nada Tshibuabua, Ola Uduku, and all the participants in the workshops and discussion rounds (see website)

Funded by the Bauhaus heute Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation


Galerie Wedding

Galerie Wedding – Raum für zeitgenössische Kunst is a communal gallery inside the town hall of Berlin’s northern district Wedding. Together with Miriam Busch, we developed a visual identity that reflects the new curatorial focus, summarized through the title “Post-Otherness,” or in its second iteration “Unsustainable Privileges.” Implemented by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Solvej Helweg Ovesen this focus has allowed to create a polyphonous dialogue about “cosmopolitanized realities,” in which “the ‘Post-Other’ emerges, a figure still bearing the signs of historical Othering while at the same time representing and experimenting with unknown futures beyond it,”1 asking the essential question “how can we accept the idea of otherness as a part of normality and explore the potential of post-otherness?”2

Taking the architecture of the gallery as a starting point, we interpreted its facade as a membrane between the street life of Müllerstraße and the artists’ discourses. We decided to elasticize, distort and thus redefine the prominent squared structure of the windows. The logo works as a bracket opening up this space.

In 2019, Galerie Wedding published a reader, making the four year collaboration between Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Solvej Helweg Ovesen tangible to a wider audience. This book gathers the 23 solo exhibitions of a wide array of artists as well as texts of the symposium from 2018. The design reflects the visual identity of the gallery and extends it by shifting reading blocks on the page, stretching visible and invisible constraints.

In collaboration with Miriam Busch, Website in collaboration with Philipp Schäfer.

About the publication
Design in collaboration with Miriam Busch
Editors: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Solvej Helweg Ovesen and Ute Müller-Tischler
Artists: Sol Calero, Elly Clarke, Mariana Castillo Deball, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Antje Engelmann, Azin Feizabadi, Abrie Fourie, Simon Fujiwara, Surya Gied, Satch Hoyt, Mwangi Hutter, Stine Marie Jacobsen, Ilja Karilampi, Cyrill Lachauer, Dafna Maimon, Henrike Naumann, Emeka Ogboh, Ahmet Ögut, Ibrahim Quraishi, Mario Rizzi, Lerato Shadi, Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, Virol Erol Vert
Guest authors: Jelene Bäumler, Noa K. Ha, Carrie Hampel, Millay Hyatt, Nataša Ilić, Paul Mecheril, Ute Müller-Tischler, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Solvej Helweg Ovesen, Nadia Pilchowski, Kathrin Pohlmann, María do Mar Castro Varela, Julia Zieger
Published by: Art and Culture Department, Galerie Wedding – Space for Contemporary Art, Head of Department Ute Müller-Tischler, District Office Center of Berlin, Department of Further Education, Culture, Environment, Nature, Roads and Green Spaces, Sabine Weißler
Publisher: Kerber Verlag

  1. R. Römhild & B. Ndikung, “The Post-Other as Avant-Garde”. In We Roma: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art, p. 206–225, eds. Daniel Baker, Maria Hlavajova, BAK–basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and Valiz, Amsterdam

  2. B. Ndikung & S. Helweg Ovesen, “Post-Otherness Wedding (POW)”, Curatorial Concept, Pressemappe Galerie Wedding 2015, galeriewedding.de

Megalopolis: Voices from Kinshasa

In close collaboration with the curator-artists Eddy Ekete and Freddy Tsimba, as well as project manager Aude Bertrand, the Grassi Museum Leipzig, and many artists in the show, I developed the communication material for the exhibition “Megalopolis: Voices from Kinshasa” (01.12.2018—14.04.2019).

Conceived as a longterm project involving residency programmes in Kinshasa and Leipzig, the curatorial team was given a “carte blanche” by their hosts. The concepts, ideas and processes showed the possibilities of such an endeavour just as much as the limits and constraints of museum structures and especially those of an ethnographic museum, laden with the history of colonial violence and its unfoldings in the contemporary. Developing a visual frame for this had to take up these challenges. As an exhibition that sought confrontations with the Leipzig public with the least filters possible, trying to push towards an understanding of globality where actions do not come without consequences, the design also had to consider how to entice a probably reluctant crowd, and not limit its audience to an already interested, culturally affine group.

The process brought about a visual where graphic markers blend in with one of the motifs of Azgard Itambo’s photographic series “Kinshasa Moving,” capturing passersby looking at public art performances in Kinshasa.

An exhibition catalogue was published after the exhibition, presenting the artists as well as the curatorial framework and essays by Vincent Lombume Kalimasi, Jean Kamba and Hervey Ngoma.

Curators: Eddy Ekete, Freddy Tsimba
Host: Grassi Museum Leipzig, Nanette Snoep
Artists: Anastasie Langu, Azgard Itambo, Cheri Benga, Danniel Toya, Dolet Malalu, Elie Mbansing, Eunice Kamanda, Flory Sinanduku, Francis Mampuya, Fransix Tenda, Gabriel Lukinga, Géraldibe Tobe, Hilary Balu, Jean-Jacques Tankwey, Judith Kaluaji, Louison Mbeya, Mega Mingiedi, Nada Tshibuabua, Olivier Nalumbu, Serge Diakota, Steve Bandoma



Lamin Fofana’s piece “Witness” was part of the University of Disaster at the Venice Biennial 2017. It was a psychogeographic soundmap in memory of Pateh Sabally, a 22-year-old refugee from Gambia, who threw himself into the waters of Venice’s Grand Canal in January 2017 and drowned while onlookers shouted racist comments and recorded the suicide. The piece is a direct response to this tragedy and searches for possible spaces of empathy in the city of Venice. The accompanying map gives an approximate, fragmented guidance to the listener-viewer and tries to respond graphically to this “Unfolding Human Drama” by questioning proximity and distance, material and immaterial presences.


SAVVY Contemporary

In 2016, seven years after the founding of SAVVY Contemporary–The Laboratory of Form-Ideas, it was time for a new visual identity. Already part of the team since 2014, it was on me to reflect the space visually, in all its performative and conceptual strength.

SAVVY Contemporary understands itself as a space that activates a manifold of discourses and practices in order to bring a world into being that reconfigures the power relations of the present.

SAVVY Contemporary is a performative and performing entity: situating itself at the threshold of notions and constructs of the so called west and non-west, it attempts to understand, deconstruct and renegotiate the ideologies and connotations that are imminent to colonialities of power, gender and race. In order to achieve this, SAVVY Contemporary brings exhibitions into being, hosts lectures, performances, screenings, talks and workshops, feeds an archive on German colonial history and a documentation centre and has become a convivial centre and lively meeting spot for a global community that engages in the poetic power of artistic practices that de-institute and re-institute selves, that un-silence suppressed voices and silence imposed ones, that un-name and re-name the contemporary.1

SAVVY Contemporary is thus a space where knowledge is continuously known anew: where the questioning mind stands at the beginning as well as the end of any deliberation, where spaces of interpretation are continuously opened-up in order to demonstrate the falsehood of fixed world-views.

The starting point for a visual identity for SAVVY Contemporary has to take these elements into account and reflect them. By observing existing communication practices within SAVVY Contemporary it has appeared clearly that a deep contextual framing is immanent and eminent to the way SAVVY communicates and wants to communicate. Graphically speaking, this means that the visual identity has as its main element the written word. The simple and clear conclusion that was to be drawn from this observation was to understand, that the visual identity had to realise itself through the act of writing and reading – that it had to be part of the text itself. And that this ought to be achieved so that it “does” what SAVVY “does”: opening up spaces of interpretation through confrontation and straight forward annoyance. The system of writing would have to create a discord in the reader and force him to stumble and question, to create a moment of possible reconfiguration in this short moment of confusion. To consolidate: Graphic Design, and in this case more precisely the setting of text, has to become performative and understand itself performatively: this main motivation lead to the core visual decisions.

The word “savvy” can mean “shrewd and knowledgeable; having common sense and good judgement” or “well informed about or experienced in a particular domain.” Despite the descriptive nature, it was, in the case of Savvy Contemporary – traditionally written in majuscules, i.e. SAVVY Contemporary – mistaken for an abbreviation. This “mistake” leads to an interesting occurrence: it elicits the question “What does it stand for?”. A question around which SAVVY’s doings oscillate, and which bears precisely the confusion that allows interpretational space to open up.

The graphical translation now became a rather simple game. The impression of an abbreviation had to be reinforced and applied as an idea: SAVVY Contemporary became S A V V Y Contemporary, individualizing the letters, creating a disruption in the writing and reading flow, and symbolically creating interpretational space and a visually patterned, rhythmic page.

As a consequence, the system was applied to all those words that S A V V Y questions or that need to be distinguished: The word word becomes W O R D, the word world becomes W O R L D. Unlearning the Given becomes Unlearning the G I V E N.

Despite the very conscious choice of two font families – Grow by Dinamo Typefaces, an extensive family with 63 cuts, more than interesting alternates and ligatures and the specificity of existing only in majuscules (to the observing eye, differences for minuscules can be discerned), and Neutral by Carvalho Bernau, a contemporary interpretation of a modern typeface that impresses with its well drawn letters and quirky simplicity – this writing system allows to be written in any font and still keep its conceptual integrity.

https://savvy-contemporary.com/en/about/concept/Image 1: Selection of printed material
Image 2–4: “The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse”, Reader
Image 5: Website

More information: savvy-contemporary.com
Website developer: Fabian Wohlfahrt

  1. see concept by SAVVY Contemporary here

Johannes Paul Raether

In close collaboration with the artist, a poster was created that served to announce the exhibition, performance and workshops that Johannes Paul Raether developed at District in 2015. The artist’s work is based on the activation of fictional characters, layed out in his “Systema Identitecturae,” which found representation on one side of the poster. For this exhibition “Transformella” was activated: the “Queen of Debris and Surrogate Mother of the Institute for Reproductive Futures,” posing questions on the emancipatory potentials of new reproductive technologies.

A project with District and Johannes Paul Raether

Curator: Suza Husse


Lagos Biennial

The Lagos Biennial, initiated by Folakunle Oshun in 2017, is a relatively new, yet all the more self-assured undertaking, stepping towards its second iteration in 2019.

Starting from the felt necessity for more profound local and extralocal dialogue between creatives in Lagos, the geographical and historical context of this 21 million people strong “nerve point of Africa”1 is the base on which the biennale rests.

In order to give sustenance and ever new shapes to the iterations to come, I devised a system where the basic shape of the logo can be altered and reframed at each new curatorial focus.

In 2019, the three guest curators Antawan I. Byrd, Tosin Oshinowo and Oyinda Fakeye concentrate on “the intersections of art, architecture, and urbanism […] The second edition of the biennial is poised to engage pertinent socioeconomic and political issues stemming from the astonishing shifts in the city’s spatial elaboration over the past two decades” engaging the concept of “environment” in its largest sense: “We live in, and in relation to various kinds of environments. Architecture and the built environment shapes urban experience, impacting our sense of belonging and understanding of heritage. […] The conditions of a particular political environment allow for atrocities such as the Atlantic Slave Trade to seem normalised or to become too easily forgotten, just as particular social environments can act to suppress or support a person’s sexual orientation or gender identification.”2

It is this shifting character of the city not quite land, not quite water, constantly transitioning and negotiating its history, that I tried to symbolize in the logo. The passing yellow line and the parallel black stripes also mean to resucitate a feeling of familiarity, presencing the ubiquitous flow of Danfos, the city’s minibuses transporting millions of people and stories every day.

Lagos Biennial Artistic Director: Folakunle Oshun
Curators: Antawan I. Byrd, Tosin Oshinowo and Oyinda Fakeye
Website: in construction

Image 1: Pattern made with rotating, pixel-reconstructed statue that once stood on the roof of the Ilojo Bar, built by returning and freed Brazilian slaves in 1855 and demolished in 2016
Image 2: The logo with its intervention for the 2019 iteration of the Lagos Biennial
Image 3: Sketch for the website

  1. Lagos Biennial concept, Folakunle Oshun, 2017, www.lagos-biennial.org

  2. Lagos Biennial 2019 concept, 2019, www.lagos-biennial.org

The Many Headed Hydra #2

The Many Headed Hydra is a shape-shifting collective, feminist and decolonial art project that explores the waters as a rhizomatic narrative space. It was initiated by Emma Haugh and Suza Husse at Dristrict, Berlin. Now in its second “surfacing,” the Hydra’s mythological origins as a serpent-like water creature whose heads reproduce uncontrollably, found form in two exhibitions (in Nida, Lithuania and Berlin, Germany), a month-long residency, several collaborations across a full spectrum of artistic practices, and the publishing of a scattered and rearrangeable publication.1

The graphical language was developed from the first surfacing of The Many Headed Hydra (see below), which resulted in a magazine. A symbol, “wavy like the sea”2 and not only subliminally representing a vagina, develops from a one-eyed, to a two-eyed to a three- and fourth-eyed sea-creature that surfaces, resurfaces and shape-shifts.

Project with District Kunst- und Kulturförderung

Curators: Emma Haugh and Suza Husse
Contributors: Anti*Preuss, Bryndis Björnsdottír, Cooltūristės, Ieva Epnere, Daniel Falb, Sonja Gerdes, Ulrike Gerhardt, Golden Diskó Ship, Caspar Heinemann, Almagul Menlibayeva, Sondra Perry, Ashkan Sepahvand, Virgilijus Šonta, Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor, The Many Headed Hydra

  1. These descriptive paragraphs are rephrased from the curatorial statement of The Many Headed Hydra #1and #2.

  2. Reference to the song “Hair Like Water Wavy Like the Sea” by Tommy Genesis, feat. Abra. Awful Records, 2015.

The Many Headed Hydra #1

The Many Headed Hydra is a shape-shifting collective, feminist and decolonial art project that explores the waters as a rhizomatic narrative space. It was initiated by Emma Haugh and Suza Husse at Dristrict, Berlin. Its first “surfacing” was conceived as a magazine with contributions by proliferate thinkers and doers, discussing the North Atlantic as a territory of passage, undergoing social and ecological transformations, with its streams of capital, its histories of diasporas and the cold war, its flow of technology, and the desires and discourses that cross its waters.1

The Hydra’s mythological origin as a serpent-like water creature whose heads reproduce uncontrollably is at the core of the graphical language that was developed for this series of publications. A symbol, “wavy like the sea”2 and not only subliminally representing a vagina, develops from a one-eyed, to a two-eyed to a three- and fourth-eyed sea-creature that surfaces, resurfaces and shape-shifts.

The results of the second “surfacing” can be viewed above.

Project with District Kunst- und Kulturförderung

Editors: Emma Haugh and Suza Husse
Contributors: Anna Hallin & Olga Bergmann, Bryndís Björnsdóttir, Hannah Black, Natasha Ginwala, Tinna Grétarsdóttir, Emma Haugh, Suza Husse, Occupational Hazard Project, Tejal Shah, Ato Malinda, Nine Eglantine Yamamoto-Masson and participants of the workshops “Speaking As Fishes” in Leipzig and Reykjavík.

  1. These descriptive paragraphs are rephrased from the curatorial statement of The Many Headed Hydra #1 and #2.

  2. Reference to the song “Hair Like Water Wavy Like the Sea” by Tommy Genesis, feat. Abra. Awful Records, 2015.

Buen Vivir

Buen Vivir was a two-year research project that involved artists from Columbia, Croatia, Peru and Switzerland. The process-led undertaking sought to discern, create and question contemporary forms of “buen vivir” – the spanish translation of “sumak kawsay”, describing the andean conception of being in the world before the invasion of the spaniards. Having become a somewhat “hot topic” in the last years with capitalist societies frantically searching for alternative models that can potentially sustain human life on this planet, it was high time that this frenzy gets questioned by critical and creative minds. An exhibition in Zaghreb as well as Switzerland, with an extensive discursive programme was organised as a culmination of these collective practices in the summer 2016.

A project with Cinema Luna, Kunstmuseum Thurgau, MSU Museum for Contemporary Art, Shed im Eisenwerk

Curator: Harm Lux
Contributors: steffenschöni, Petra Mrsa, Eliana Otta, Julian Santana, Carlos Leon-Xjimenez, Fernando Pertuz, Bildstein/Glatz, Sylvia Jaimes, Christians Luna, Bojan Mucko, Esneider Gamboa, Christian Alarcon Ismodes, Reto R. Müller, Gonzalo Fernandez, Mirjam Wanner, Tea Hatadi


All to Make Workshop

A workshop that taught, questioned and playfully broke open the structural base of programming with HTML, CSS and Processing in Leipzig, 2013: “By learning and understanding the structures that lie behind sleek surfaces, we want to question and subvert the way the web communicates with us in a critical and playful way. […] The participants are free to apply these newly gained possibilities by using the surface of our website as a white canvas to give form to their explorations, questions, actions, reactions and gestures.”1

In collaboration with Miriam Busch
Programming of the website by Philipp Schäfer

  1. Workshop statement, alltomake.de

Off Sight Protest

Off Sight was a student led protest that turned against the administrative decision to exclude the print and bookbinding workshops from the direct learning experience at Central Saint Martins in 2011.

Sit-ins and meetings were organised, many works emerged, and an exhibition was created including a symposium with representatives of the graphic design community (including Ken Garland). A year after the protest, a reflective summary and review was created in the form of a book. As a self-initiated project it only showed effect six years later, when the upheavals did indeed lead to an overturn of the decisions and brought the workshops back to the main building at King’s Cross.

Development of the visual identity with Marie Artaker

The book is part of the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection and the Central Saint Martins Library


Sugar Mountain: On the Power of Storing

This paper was written during the course “Design and the Future of Publishing” at the New School in 2014. Fascinated with the non-transparent aspects of the web and the wealth of data that is being stored for and against us every day, I decided to attempt a formulation of thoughts about the nature of these ever more solidifying power structures and the thought systems at their core.
The paper was “published” online. It is still retrievable from elsawestreicher.com/thepowerofstoring/. The text is also available as an object at Printed Matter New York and was purchased by the New York Public Library. Its original form, as it exists in the data centre that hosts my website, i.e. the original electronic impulses, i.e. the binary code, meets a new physical form and therefore storage possibility by being written out as DNA Code – used to store electronic information successfully since 2012.

A project at The New School for Social Research


Amateurist Network

This poster was developed to provide information on the intentions and influences of the Amateurist Network, a collective of cultural practitioners in London who ask questions on the economic dimension of their work in the cultural sector and seek to challenge the under-valuation of it. The poster was used at presentations and workshops at Tate Modern and the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA).

Project for the Amateurist Network
In collaboration with Boo Wallin


Letters on Buildings as Undercurrents on Structures

This research project revolved around the presence of letters in urban centres. It proposed to interpret lettering as one of the forms in which undercurrents of a society become visible, and equally questioned the remaining invisibilities. It occupied itself with trying to grasp the underlying motivations, limits and desires and took inspiration from Henry Lefebvre’s concept of Rhythmanalysis to get a better understanding of the way graphic signs determine and make contemporary cities.

B.A. Thesis at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, 2011