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The physical iteration of this exhibtion was held at the Frans Nambinga Arts Training Center in Havana, Windhoek from 6 - 25 November 2020

'Ovizire·Somgu: From Where Do We Speak?' is an ongoing art and history project that emerged out of a creative collaboration between artists and historians in Namibia and Germany in 2018 and 2019. The project was centered on a colonial photographic archive housed at the Museum am Rothenbaum (MARKK) in Hamburg, which was produced and collected by German scientists, settlers, merchants and military personnel during the colonial period in Namibia (1884-1915). As a result of this collaboration, artworks focusing on the complexities of German and Namibian entangled histories were created, and have been featured in three subsequent exhibitions in Hamburg, Germany and Windhoek. The purpose was to create a site for solidarity, healing and resistance, and a space for reclaiming the past through research and interdisciplinary artistic practices.


Drawing from its title ‘Ovizire’, a word from the Otjiherero language and ‘Somgu’ in Khoekhoegowab, which in everyday use can be translated to mean ‘shadow’ or ‘aura’, this cross-disciplinary project responds to the colonial photographic archive and its painful legacy.  Some of the methods include interrogating spaces of power, the colonial gaze and its subsequent representations, and challenging the uneven remembrance of the Herero and Nama genocide (1904-1908).


The most recent phase of this project undertaken by FWDWS incorporates trans-historic educational workshops with youth in the //Kharas, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions of Namibia. These workshops were developed to facilitate artistic explorations of the colonial past and decolonial futures in Namibia. The idea behind these workshops was to generate community dialogues and expressions regarding legacies of colonialism, colonial photographic archives, inter-generational negotiation, restorative justice, multi-directional memory and identity politics in Namibia, among other topics. 


The workshops resulted in a number of drawn, painted and written responses, much of which is on display here. These pieces are accompanied by artworks from a multi-disciplinary group of artists, including photographers, poets, performers, sculptors, painters and installation artists. The exhibition unfolds in two parts, first physically at the Frans Nambinga Arts Training Centre in Havana, Windhoek and then as an online exhibition hosted by StArt Art Gallery. The online portion of this exhibition contains additional artworks that were not shown at the physical exhibition.

‘From Where Do We Speak?` challenges the long shadows that have been cast over counter-histories and diverse voices for too long, offering new and constructive critical readings and creative responses.


At the Frans Nambinga Arts Training Center in Havana, Windhoek 

6 - 25 November 2020 (view the online exhibition)


Ovizire.Somgu: From Where Do We Speak? has been made possible through support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the National Arts Council of Namibia.

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Curated by StArt Art Gallery in collaboration with Vitjitua Ndjiharine