Hubert Fichte enjoyed sex. And he enjoyed travelling. He particularly enjoyed Brazil and the Brazilian people. Fichte was born in 1935, in Perleberg, Germany. Born to a Jewish father, during the Second World War he was brought up in hiding in a Catholic convent. Writer, poète maudit, homosexual, and chronicler of the Hamburg underworld, he was frequently seen as a controversial figure and key to the German underground literature of the 1960s, particularly for his famous novel Die Palette (The Palette, 1968).

From the early 1960s on, Fichte began to share his work, research, and bed with German photographer Leonore Mau (b. Leipzig, 1916 – d. Hamburg, 2013), a relationship which would last for more than twenty-five years; together they made several experimental films and traveled the routes of the African diaspora through Senegal, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Granada, Venezuela, the United States, and especially Brazil, where they visited Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Luís, Recife, Belém, and Manaus. It was during these journeys that Fichte began his unfinished series of eighteen novels and essays grouped under the title Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity). He also contributed to the literary world with an important compendium on Afro-American religions, such as Candomblé and Tambor de Mina, while at the same time mapping the gay underworld of the Brazilian metropoles during the military dictatorship. From this complex intersection, an “other” poetry is born, an “other” ethnography, an “other” form of journalism and political commentary: this he called “experimental anthropology” or “ethnopoetry,” which required “other readings”—counter-current readings. Fichte lived out his final years with HIV and died in Hamburg in 1986, a victim of AIDS-related health issues.

The project Implosão:Trans(relacion)ando Hubert Fichte seeks to respond to the challenges posed by the invitation we received in 2015 from the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), and especially from Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke, artistic directors of the project Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology, to coordinate the Brazilian editions of the project in partnership with the Goethe-Institut. How could we create an environment for the critical reception of Fichte’s oeuvre while at the same time setting in motion fundamental issues put forward by the author without placing him as the protagonist of those issues? And how could we root those debates in Brazilian contexts? We decided to begin with two seminars of collective reading and discussion together with a group of invited artists. These were complemented with several public programs, lectures, and performances. The first took place in March 2016 in Salvador, and in November of the same year we organized a seminar at the Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica, in Rio de Janeiro. Our main working material was extracts from Explosion. Roman der Ethnologie provided by Marcelo Backes while translating the book, which received the Portuguese title Explosão. Romance da Etnologia. It is the main text of Fichte’s Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit, which narrates the travels and experiences of the author and his companion, Leonore Mau, on three journeys they took to Brazil between 1969 and 1982. Explosion. Roman der Ethnologie was published posthumously in German in 1993, and has been published in Brazil by Hedra as part of the project.

These seminars gave rise to the exhibition module Implosão:Trans(relacio)nando Hubert Fichte, which included two iterations, the first of which opened from November 7 to December 17, 2017 at the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, and the second at Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica in Rio de Janeiro from November 25, 2017 to January 13, 2018. The project was further developed with the publication Implosão (project publication in Portuguese), co-edited by Cíntia Guedes, a researcher from Paraíba residing in Rio de Janeiro. The book features interviews, oral histories, and contributions from relevant Brazilian researchers, activists, teachers, and artists.

Our goal with these seminars, exhibitions, and the publication was for the collectivities involved to modulate the processes of both explosion and implosion of: the gazes, perspectives, stances, determinations, biases, and places of speach of the German libertarian poet who searched Brazil for new minoritarian alliances, visiting Afro-Brazilian ritualistic sites and mães de santo (female priestesses), anthropological celebrities, public toilets, markets, gay movie theaters (cinemões), and other cruising spots of the time.

None of this would have been possible without the love, support, and contribution of all the people involved in these processes. We thus extend our gratitude to the researchers, activists, artists, and teachers Adriana Schneider, Ayrson Heráclito, César Oiticica Filho, Cíntia Guedes, Coletivo Bonobando, Coletivo Problema, Daniela Joyce, Diego Ribeiro, Diran Castro, Hugo Bernardo, Igor da Silva, Indianare Siqueira, Jardila Baptista, Jota Mombaça, Juliana Kaminaga, Karla Suarez, Leticia Barreto, Livia Laso, Lucas Oradovschi, Marcelo Magano, Michelle Mattiuzzi, Mateus Ah, Negro Leo, Pan African Space Station, Patrick Sonata, Rodrigo Bueno, Sergio Ferretti, Thiago de Paula, Thiago Rosa, Vanessa Oliveira, and Vanessa Rocha, to the producer Luisa Hardman, and to all those who have accompanied us during these two years, either closely or from afar, for their generosity and dedication.