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