Christian Nyampeta: A Flower Garden of All Kinds of Loveliness Without Sorrow
Museum of Contemporary Art (gfzk), Leipzig, Germany07 Jun 2019 - 29 Sep 2019
A Flower Garden of All Kinds of Loveliness Without Sorrow is the artist Christian Nyampeta’s first solo exhibition in Germany. The title is borrowed from Een bloemhof van allerley lieflijkheyd sonder verdriet (1668), one of the first Dutch dictionaries by Adriaan Koerbagh, a Dutch philosopher and critic.
Despite its own contradictions, Koerbagh’s publication attempted to demystify the language of the Church and the State, and to intervene against the cultural injustice resulting from the distortion of religious and clerical meanings. As a result of this writing Koerbagh was obliged to live in exile, and died in prison in Amsterdam. Drawing from the story surrounding Koerbagh and his practice influenced by the Radical Enlightment, Nyampeta’s A Flower Garden at the GfZK deals with the representational mechanisms of language and narrations, processes of translation, as well as cultural acts of violence.
The project consists of three components: an exhibition, a scriptorium and a public programme. The exhibition presents a combination of works, including film and sculpture, which narrate histories and fictions from within the former European colonies Congo and Rwanda, the latter of which was part of German East Africa between 1884 and 1916. The sculptures presented in the exhibition were produced by staff and students of Nyundo Art School in Rwanda in the context of their study of monuments, testimony and witnessing. As 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, the artist dedicates these “monuments” to minor Rwandan and German figures who were unjustly persecuted for their beliefs, ideas or behavior.
In the scriptorium– a space for writing– a Leipzig working group discusses and annotates the English and German translation of writings by the Rwandan philosopher Isaïe Nzeyimana. The public programme invites to excursions and screenings that focus on the colonial legacies of the German Empire in Rwanda and its afterlives in Leipzig. The project A Flower Garden of All Kinds of Loveliness Without Sorrow at GfZK is part of an iterative program of exhibitions, screenings and performances of the same name that take place in Amsterdam, Mechelen, Kigali, London and New York.