THE NEW INSTITUTE presents to you a curated website. We treat this space like an exhibition, opening it up to a multiplicity of voices, discourses, values and knowledge systems.

On Curating Through Inquiries, Not Assumptions

Akinbode Akinbiyi, Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos, 2006, From the series Lagos: All Roads, Courtesy: The artist

On Curating Through Inquiries, Not Assumptions

An image is an event in and of itself; a moment of reflection, of recognition, of memory. The images assembled here between the years 2021/2022 on THE NEW INSTITUTE’s website are the first curatorial approach of turning a website into a platform for artworks actively demanding planetary rights for a global society, exploring questions of humanity, transgression, gender and new forms of coexistence. These artworks might surprise you, as they do more than illustrate an idea or a set of values: artworks foresee possible worlds ahead of us.

Based on a selection by curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung for our 2nd Paper Edition, Antonia Lagemann and I reflected on further artworks that pursue Hope. As Ndikung puts it, Hope is “a combination of four things: fate, faith, love and an incredible desire to survive”, advancing the process of rehumanisation. The artists – Akinbode Akinbiyi, Jota Mombaça, Kiri Dalena, Raisa Galofre, Paul Kolling, Lin May Saeed and Sim Chi Yin – all share the strength of activists out in the world, connecting to the willingness of THE NEW INSTITUTE: to dismantle the causes of global, environmental and societal problems, and at the same time, to collectively believe in a more solidary future. Through the arts we see what it means to act towards the current political and ecological urgencies, as the arts have always condensed in its multiple forms, an overarching concern: how social justice might be. And that goes beyond Utopia.

Akinbode Akinbiyi presents what he calls “instant images”, photographs of scenes on streets and passageways, thereby slowly assembling the daily habits of humans, lived rhythms and social textures of places. Jota Mombaça shows queer bodies anew, questioning social and material conventions and liberating them from a history of opression.

Kiri Dalena puts devastating catastrophes in the center of the viewer’s attention; a poetic awakening through film transcends climate concerns and social struggles. Paul Kolling reveals the fragility of the silk road by integrating it in the landscapes that reveal the compromised structures of economic processes: borders, rethorics, technologies.

Raisa Galofre swings her camera along the rituals of the Daughters of the Muntu, makes a series around them and the Pluriverse, bringing ancestral energies into our eyes today, while Sim Chi Yin and Lin May Saeed open up the horizons from ports of the world, asking themselves questions for which everyone would like to have an answer: What holds us together, in this world? Is there an interspecies storytelling for planetary rights? Which are the stories we need to hear, in times of global depletion?

These artworks might surprise you, as they do more than illustrate an idea or a set of values: artworks foresee possible worlds ahead of us.

To assume that research is enough for change would be to ignore the everyday struggle people go through in this world. We choose artworks to have a glimpse of what affects global society as such. By recurrently gathering curated groups of artworks, and putting them in dialogue with the fellowship programs at THE NEW INSTITUTE, we showcase the multiple repercussions of people’s pursuit for social and environmental justice and through it, wellbeing.

Akinbode Akinbiyi

In a world obsessed with the continuous stream of feedback, Akinbode Akinbiyi holds the lives on the streets within its photographic environments, letting bodies breathe between breathing bodies and spirituality. In the ongoing series “Sea Never Dry,” Akinbode Akinbiyi documents sacred ceremonies, communal gatherings and environmental degradation in the coastal zones of Europe and West Africa. The photographs featured in this edition are situated at Bar Beach on the shoreline of Lagos. Meditative and festive at once, his images capture intimate, seemingly timeless moments where the sacred and the profane are no longer separate.

  • Akinbode Akinbiyi, Lagos Island, Lagos, 2004, from the series Lagos: All Roads, Courtesy: The artist

  • Akinbode Akinbiyi, Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos, 2006, from the series Sea Never Dry, Courtesy: The artist

Kiri Dalena

Social injustice and inequality are at the heart of Kiri Dalena’s work as a visual artist, filmmaker and activist. Dalena is actively involved in the struggle for human rights amidst state persecution in the Philippines. When in early 2012 a hurricane aggressively hit her mother’s hometown in Iligan, Philippines, it caused an immense flooding. Clean cut logs and uprooted trees were swept down from the mountains, rivers destroyed entire communities, humans and animals were washed to the sea. This devastating catastrophe led to a significant turn in Dalena’s work, inspiring her to reflect deeply on how to find a more compassionate form of participating in and simultaneously documenting people’s stories through filmmaking. In the video work “Tungkung Langit”, Dalena follows the life of two children after they have tragically lost their family in the hurricane. In the process of creating this work, Dalena began to experience the possibilities and very limits of filmmaking.

  • Kiri Dalena, Tungkung Langit (filmstill), 2012, video, color, sound, Camera: John Javellana. Courtesy of the artist

  • Kiri Dalena, Tungkung Langit (filmstill), 2012, video, color, sound, Camera: John Javellana. Courtesy of the artist

  • Kiri Dalena, Tungkung Langit (filmstill), 2012, video, color, sound, Camera: John Javellana. Courtesy of the artist

Paul Kolling

Paul Kolling researches emerging technologies to rearrange them, to (re)appropiate them, to reveal new perspectives that can be obscured through complexity and rhetoric. Through this interest, he creates cartographies of the imaginary, and the reality hidden behind technospheres of power. Kolling does not only work on installations and hybrid objects that strive to make complicated issues accessible, but also collectively towards decentralized technological systems. He is one third of, a research group exploring the creation of hybrid ecosystems. His series 'Westbound-190621' which recreates China’s Silk Road. The artist strapped a GPS to a train departing on one of its stations – from Zhenzhou to Hamburg – and gathered satellite imagery of the entire journey. Thus 'Westbound-190621' reveals one possible reason for China’s reticence in naming specific routes: the presence of Uyghur work camps. By mapping the blurred outlines of China’s Belt and Road, "Westbound 190621 (1.968-3936)" hints at the ways art can expose systems of control in politized territories, social environments, and economic alliances.

Paul Kolling, WB190621 No. 1-21, 2020 © Foto: Maik Graef

Raisa Galofre

The photographs of Raisa Galofre embrace the clash, mixture and encounter of the opposites: real and fantastic, rational and mythical elements, which she translates into staged photographs and photographic sculptures. In this re-imagined multi layered photographic interpretation of the integrated family that Olivella presents in his novel, the human is and stays in correlation and communication with all other beings in a continuous an vital exchange that supports their existence. „Daugthers of the Muntu“ are part of a larger work titled Cundé Cundé, 2015 – 2021.

  • Raisa Galofre, El fuego vivo de la cumbia vive en nosotros (The vivid fire of Cumbia lives within us), from the series Daughters of the Muntu: A Pluriverse, 2015 – ongoing. Courtesy of the artist

  • Raisa Galofre, From the Series „Daugthers of the Muntu: A Pluriverse“, as part of a larger work titled Cundé Cundé, 2015 – 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Jota Mombaça

As they describe themselves, Jota Mombaça is a non-binary “bicha” (pejorative Brazilian slang used for gay people), and a “mutant” whose personality is in constant flux. In their work, the interdisciplinary artist researches and performs the relationships between monstrosity and humanity, queer studies, anti-coloniality and the redistribution of violence. Sound and the visualization of words play an integral role in their work, which takes place in an open performative process. "A Gente Combinamos De Não Morrer / Us Agreed Not To Die" is a performance that deals with the ongoing struggles of Black and trans people – their resistance expressed in a will to survive and in the fight for their rights. During the performance, Mombaça manufactures knives made out of materials such as glass, wood and red shoelaces and simultaneously reads out texts from various sources, reclaiming the voices and memories of writers who have been silenced.

Jota Mombaça, A Gente Combinamos De Não Morrer / Us Agreed Not To Die, Performance, Object, 2018-ongoing, © Jota Mombaça

Sim Chi Yin

Sim Chi Yin’s photographic work lays bare the monumental challenges our planet faces, and simultaneously provides personal accounts of human existence by uniting intimate storytelling with documentary photography. Her research-based practice encompasses moving image, archival interventions and text-based performances. The ongoing project “Shifting Sands”, parts of which are presented in the second paper edition of The New Institute, grew out of an interest in the history and society of her home country Singapore, which is the world’s largest importer of sand per capita. Sand is one of the world’s most used resources, and its global depletion has serious environmental and social impacts.

  • Sim Chi Yin, From the series "Burmese Spring", 2012. Courtesy of the artist

  • Sim Chi Yin, From the series "Shifting Sands", 2012. Courtesy of the artist

  • Sim Chi Yin, From the series "Burmese Spring", 2012. Courtesy of the artist

Lin May Saeed

Lin May Saeed's works are all about the human-animal relationship. But instead of depicting animals’ suffering and death, the artist creates "works of hope". They are works in which animals regain their dignity, offering a gesture of reconciliation. In this interview, Saeed describes how art and activism come together – and why she thinks everyone’s going to be vegan in a few years.

The Silence of the Animals

Different reasons could be imagined why an animal does not answer when it is asked a question. One is the rather esoteric sounding theory, which claims the animal remains silent because it is meditating. The meditation would be so deep that it cannot even be lifted when the animal dies a violent death. Its super-conscious is silent while its unconscious makes sounds, which are misunderstood as “unarticulated” and fill the space surrounding the animal and its adversary.

The other possibility would be that the animal can actually speak, though only very slowly. Ages can pass before an animal enunciated the sentence, “Please, don’t kill me!”, in an almost infinite expansion of syllables. Like someone writing his name on the surface of the moon. Depending on the particular species, this can take hundreds of thousands of years.

Lin May Saeed, Mureen / Lion School, 2016. Courtesy of the artist


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