The online journal Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology accompanies the eponymous cooperation between Goethe-Institut and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, with the support of the S. Fischer Stiftung and the S. Fischer Verlag and with the collaboration of numerous partners, and runs from 2017 to 2019 at the following exhibition and presentation sites: Lisbon, Salvador de Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Dakar, New York, and Berlin.

The point of departure for Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology is the ethnologist and author’s all-encompassing novel-cycle Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity), which Fichte worked on from the early 1970s until his death in 1986. Nineteen of the planned 24 volumes were largely finished by Fichte upon his death; the remaining five are incomplete or have gone missing. Between 1987 and 2006, seventeen volumes, some fragmentary, were published, which engendered a renewed critical reception in the German-speaking world. The project Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology focuses on several of these novels, which have been translated for the first time at the initiative of the S. Fischer Stiftung, to engender a similar critical reception in a number of the countries where Fichte and Leonore Mau pursued their travels and research interests from the 1960s into the 1980s.

For Fichte it was a matter of principle to stimulate a new post-colonial world literature and world art by means of a intensively engaged dialogue with the arts, as well as a manifestation of the sensitivity which finds expression in his novel-cycle. And thus Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology moves toward the Black Atlantic (Paul Gilroy), the widespread regions of the African and Afro-diasporic cultures which fundamentally affected both Fichte and Mau’s output as well as their understanding of ethnology.

Proceeding Fichte’s novel Eine Glückliche Liebe (1984/1988; A Happy Love), recently translated by José Maria Vieira Mendes (publisher: Cotovía), the exhibition Mistake! Mistake! said the rooster… and stepped down from the duck (23.9.–5.11.2017) features the artists Gabriel Barbi, Ramiro Guerrero, Ana Jotta, Eurydice Kala, and Simon Thompson, together with Fichte and Mau’s work from their stay in Salazar’s Portugal in the 1960s. The exhibition, curated by Jürgen Bock at the Lisbon venue Lumiar Cité, confronts key themes from Fichte’s work, such as torture, human rights, and bisexuality, as well as interrogations of Fichte and Mau’s aesthetic interventions. Fichte’s attempts at expanding the literary work itself as well as art write as a kind of “total method” have been worked out in Lisbon, the project’s first station, and leave their mark on the subsequent ones.

The exhibition Implosão: Trans(relacion)ando Hubert Fichte, curated by Max Jorge Hinderer and Amilcar Packer at the MAM Museum of Modern Art (7.11.–17.12.2017) in Salvador da Bahia and Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica (25.11.2017– 13.1.2018) in Rio de Janeiro, focuses on Fichte’s 900-page novel Explosion (1993). Beginning with Marcelos Backes’ translation of this crucial volume in Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (publisher: Hedra), a number of Brazilian and international artists have developed works that respond to Fichte and Mau’s research into the Afro-diasporic religion Candomblé, as well as Fichte’s conflict with French photographer and ethnologist Pierre Verger.

The exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (13.9.–18.11.2018) in Santiago de Chile, curated by Mario Navarro, is related to Fichte’s sections on Chile and his novel Explosion, translated by Cecilia Pavón (publisher: Metales Pesados), as its point of departure, together with the radio feature Chile: Experiment auf die Zukunft (Chile: An Experiment with the Future), first broadcast on Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Northern German Broadcasting) in 1971. Drawn to Allende’s political project, Fichte and Mau spent part of that year in the South American country. Fichte’s interviews with Allende and Carlos Jorquera, former press secretary for the Allende government, are testimonials to Fichte’s intense engagement with Latin American socialism, and are the central point of reference in this affiliate project station in Santiago de Chile.

A collaboration with Koyo Kouoh (RAW Material Company, curation) and Ibrahima Diagne (conference), the station in Dakar (5.–24.10.2018) departs from Fichte’s book Psyche (translation: Maguèye Kasse, Ibrahima Diagne und Mamadou Diop, publisher: L’Harmattan Sénégal), and extends to Fichte and Mau’s lengthy stays in countries such as Benin, Togo, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, and Tanzania, as well as Fichte’s  investigations into medical and psychiatric practices.

Adam Siegel’s English-language translation of Die schwarze Stadt: Glossen (1990; Black City: Glosses, publisher: Sternberg Press) is the point of departure for exhibitions at Participant Inc and E-Flux Space, curated by Yesomi Umolu with Katja Rivera (3.12.2018–13.1.2019). Between 1978 and 1980 Fichte spent a substantial amount of time in New York City. It was here where he experienced his engagement with Afro-diasporic cultures as a culmination, for it is in New York where they all may be found — for the first time they appeared to Fichte in their entirety as a single counter-universality, coherent alternative to Western art. Fichte expands these insights at greater length in his interviews with artists, activists, and chance acquaintances.

The final station of the project, Love and Ethnology – The Colonial Dialectic of Sensitivity (after Hubert Fichte), will be in Berlin at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (18.10.2019–6.1.2020). Curated by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke, the artistic directors of Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology, it takes up the themes and artistic stances of the six preceding stations and on-site curated exhibitions while gathering them with further artistic works and new commissions. Within the context of ethnology and the aesthetic avant-garde of post-war West Germany, the exhibition and conference expand on the critical impact of Fichte’s poetic and ethnographic travel literature: his sexual politics and the development of an utopia of radical sensitivity as well as the inquiries he conceived along the lines of what Paul Gilroy later termed the Black Atlantic. New artistic works relate to questions of representation and restitution, the unlimiting and canonization of art, as well as to (current) colonial power relations.

With extensive archival materials and artistic works by Nadja Abt, Heriberto “Eddie” Alicea, Kader Attia, Gilles Aubry, Richard Avedon, Alvin Baltrop, Gabriel Barbi, Letícia Barreto, Coletivo Bonobando, Michael Buthe, Miguel Rio Branco, Rosemarie Clausen, Nathalie David, Mestre Didi, Hubert Fichte, Claudia del Fierro, Avril Forest, Alair Gomes, Renée Green, Philipp Gufler, Ayrson Heráclito, Isaac Julien, Euridice Zaituna Kala, Kippenberger und Akim S. aus 44, Friedl Kubelka, Pedro Lemebel, Cristóbal Lehyt, Musa Michelle Mattiuzzi, Leonore Mau, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Virginia de Medeiros, Michaela Melián, Mario Navarro, Richard Oelze, Pan African Space Station, Lil Picard, André Pierre, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Daniel Richter, Thierno Seydou Sall, Pap Samb (Papisto Boy), Pierre Verger, and James Van Der Zee.

The extensive project publication Love and Ethnology – The Colonial Dialectic of Sensitivity (after Hubert Fichte), edited by Diedrich Diedrichsen, Anselm Franke, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, was published by Sternberg Press in October 2019.