English
About the project
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... More…
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02/10/2018  Thierno Seydou Sall  Dakar
A Voyage Across the Ocean of Schizophrenia

In the years that Fichte spent conducting research at the psychiatric hospital in Fann, simultaneously artist Thierno Seydou Sall was cultivating his own practice in Dakar. Sall and Fichte almost crossed paths in Fann when the artist and poet was a patient at the same psychiatric unit Fichte was fascinated with. After meeting the artist and Laboratoire Agit’Art co-founder Issa Samb, Sall was encouraged to give voice to his unique perspective through performing and writing. The “wandering poet” Sall developed what he calls a “poetry of the electro-shock”, a reference to his experience of psychiatric treatment – and an homage to Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. More…

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11/09/2018  Nelly Richard  Santiago de Chile
Hubert Fichte in the Chile of Unidad Popular: half socialist revolution, half homosexual liberation

What readings and meanings can revisiting the work of Hubert Fichte offer Chile today? What new expressive configurations, what angles of vision and textures of experience does this work infuse into our understanding of a local story with its own political and social historicity? In her contribution, the cultural theorist Nelly Richard elaborates the queer specifics of Hubert Fichte’s ethnology and prose in his encounters with Salvador Allende’s Chile in the early 1970s. Out of a sense of critical regionalism, she calls for a contextualization of Fichte’s work within the corpus of an already existing textual production in Chile to overturn the contradictory attitude of the left toward a homosexuality in change, and thus appeals to the emancipatory promise of the revolution. More…

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07/09/2018  David Maulen de los Reyes  Santiago de Chile
Designing sensitivity
Future planning and socialism during the years of Hubert Fichte’s radio programme Chile: Experiment auf die Zukunft
(Chile: an experiment for the future, 1971)

“Prospective” design was developed by the second-generation cybernetician Stafford Beer, who devised methods to plan for the future from an interdisciplinary perspective and with a collective approach. The idea was to design a way of life by applying tools from engineering and biology. At around the same time, the designer Gui Bonsiepe from the Ulm School of Design was applying knowledge drawn from sensory experience to calculate “use value”, a concept used in political economics. The two professionals worked together on behalf of Chile’s socialist government between 1970 and 1973. The concept underlying their strategy was an interactive mechanism: the interface. Parallel to this, in April 1972, the Group of 77 was seeking an alternative model for the Third World at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD III). This context was reflected in the form and content of the cover page for issue no. 7 of the journal Revista de la Universidad Técnica del Estado. More…

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10/08/2018  Hubert Fichte  Rio de Janeiro
A Blight Covers the Country
Fear and Misery of the Brazilian Republic (Part II)

In order to finance his second research trip to Brazil in 1971, Hubert Fichte wrote a two-part text for the news magazine Der Spiegel. This appeared in the issues 5 and 6 in 1972 and drew on both trips to Brazil. In this text Fichte painted an uncompromising picture of the military dictatorship, placing a special focus on the involvement of federal German companies and foreign policy. His analysis of Brazilian culture largely followed models shaped by classical Marxism: The poor are distracted by football, carnival, and Candomblé and prevented from comprehending their misery, let alone rising up against it. Here one can already see in outline that Fichte would soon recognize Candomblé as an independent Afro-diasporic culture with elements of resistance, however in the present text his judgement remains skeptical. Due to his attacks on Brazilian authorities and their German accomplices, Fichte also faced extreme hostility in Brazil. For fear of arrest, he did not step foot in the country for a number of years following the publication of the Spiegel articles. More…

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03/08/2018  Hubert Fichte  Rio de Janeiro
A Blight Covers the Country
Fear and Misery of the Brazilian Republic (Part I)

In order to finance his second research trip to Brazil in 1971, Hubert Fichte wrote a two-part text for the news magazine Der Spiegel. This appeared in the issues 5 and 6 in 1972 and drew on both trips to Brazil. In this text Fichte painted an uncompromising picture of the military dictatorship, placing a special focus on the involvement of federal German companies and foreign policy. His analysis of Brazilian culture largely followed models shaped by classical Marxism: The poor are distracted by football, carnival, and Candomblé and prevented from comprehending their misery, let alone rising up against it. Here one can already see in outline that Fichte would soon recognize Candomblé as an independent Afro-diasporic culture with elements of resistance, however in the present text his judgement remains skeptical. Due to his attacks on Brazilian authorities and their German accomplices, Fichte also faced extreme hostility in Brazil. For fear of arrest, he did not step foot in the country for a number of years following the publication of the Spiegel articles. More…

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27/07/2018  Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, Amilcar Packer  Rio de Janeiro
Implosão: Trans(re)lating Hubert Fichte

The two-part exhibition at the stations Salvador da Bahia (MAM Museum of Modern Art, 7/11-17/12/2017) and Rio de Janeiro (Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oticicia, 25/11/2017-13/1/2018) was dedicated to the critical reception of Hubert Fichte’s work and themes such as homosexuality, religion, in particular the Candomblé, and the repression of the military dictatorship, which Fichte explored locally and in the literary products of his research visits to Brazil between 1969 and 1982. In their text, the curators of Implosão: Trans(re)lating Hubert Fichte, Amilcar Packer and Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, discuss thegenesis of the project which took Fichte’s Explosion. Roman der Ethnologie (Explosion. Novel of Ethnology) as its starting point. They sketch the difficulties as well as strategies employed by them, working about Fichte as a European writer and ethnologist in Brazil, without placing him at the center of the themes discussed. More…

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28/10/2017  Hubert Fichte  Rio de Janeiro
Forschungsbericht (Research Report, excerpt)

Hubert Fichte’s Forschungsbericht (Research Report) represents a turning point in Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensibility): Irma and Jäcki, the researcher-photographer “ethnologist couple,” reach the limits of their alternative ethnology. Ever more skeptical, Jäcki immerses himself in methodological questions. According to Fichte’s editor Gisela Lindemann in her “Editor’s Note,” the novel “describes and stages (…) the collapse of every West German (and European) attempt to respond to the challenge of the multi-faceted suffering of people in the Third World in an engaged way.” But the promise of a breakthrough seems to be functioning, everything else turns into literature, from which he actually wished to distance himself. “That’s it. Research Report. A novel. (…) The sciences are novels about protagonists such as Hegel, Freud, Lacan. The authors are the titles.” The novel depicts a journey to Belize made by Fichte and Mau in February 1980 and was completed in April 1981. It constitutes Volume XV of Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit. More…

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26/10/2017  Editors  Berlin
Upcoming

In 2019 an exhibition curated by artistic directors Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke will take place at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, which will take up the themes and stances of the six preceding project stations and explore their historical and current connections. More…

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22/10/2017  Peter Braun  Salvador da Bahia
Salvador da Bahia. In Search of an Ethnology of Sensitivity

The Germanist and media theorist Peter Braun describes the emergence of the ethnological interrogations and practices which accompany the route taken by Hubert Fichte, as derived from his experiences in Salvador da Bahia in 1971 and 1972. Not only does Braun consider the content of the novel Explosion, he examines this work as it relates to Fichte’s Xango, Petersilie (Parsley), and Lazarus und die Waschmaschine (Lazarus and the Washing Machine), all three of which appeared during the author and ethnologist’s lifetime, prior to Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity). Braun provides an extremely readable introduction to the history of candomblé and other religions of West African origin which derive from the Yorubá tradition and which Fichte would go on to study in South America and in the Caribbean. More…

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23/09/2017  Jürgen Bock  Lisboa
Mistake! Mistake! said the rooster… and stepped down from the duck

How are we to launch a project on Hubert Fichte and his and Leonore Mau’s great ethnographic project? Jürgen Bock, co-curator of Hubert Fichte: Love and Ethnology, provides an introduction to the group exhibition, Mistake! Mistake! said the rooster… and stepped down from the duck, which he curated for the project’s Lisbon station at Lumiar Cité. A passage though ideas, plans, and entanglements, proceeding from the translation of Fichte’s Eine Glückliche Liebe into Portuguese, and a return to the starting point of this key work. More…

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02/10/2018  Koyo Kouoh and Dulcie Abrahams Altass  Dakar
All of the wrongs that were in the world, I gathered them up

Ramasser; to gather, pick-up or collect. What does it mean to gather, pick-up or collect the wrongs of the world? Who is brave or sensitive enough to not only confront these wrongs, but to actively search a proximity to them? To stare them in the eye and not turn the other cheek. And, if reflecting from an artistic perspective, how do artists use the force of their aesthetic to gather, collect, and then act on these wrongs? The exhibition All of the wrongs that were in the world, I gathered them up at RAW Material Company in Dakar explores the work of five artists – Papisto Boy, Maïsama, Leonore Mau, Thierno Seydou Sall and Isabelle Thomas – whose practice over the last forty years helps us to answer these questions, and more. More…

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11/09/2018  Mario Navarro  Santiago de Chile
SUPRASENSIBILITIES

This text provides a historical perspective on the cultural, social and political context in Chile in 1971, the year when Hubert Fichte and Leonore Mau visited the country with the primary objective of observing the socialist government led by Salvador Allende. Fichte saw this political project as an opportunity and a real model for moving on from underdevelopment, poverty and the struggle against oppression. In this form of socialism the writer also recognised an experiment, and the outcome of this “field work” was the chapter dedicated to Chile in his book Explosion: A Novel of Ethnology (Explosion. Roman der Ethnologie), edited by Ronald Kay in 1993. The context he witnessed in 1971 significantly changed the idea Fichte had of Chile, encouraging him to focus his research on politics, poverty and excluded communities like indigenous peoples and homosexuals. More…

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10/09/2018  Mario Navarro Cortés  Santiago de Chile

Against Civil War
FOR LIFE … ALWAYS!
Antifascist symposium
500 simultaneous exhibitions
State Technical University (UTE) – Chile 1973

This text casts light on the political and socio-cultural context during the early 1970s in Chile based on an account of the exhibition Por la Vida…¡Siempre! (For Life …Always!) mounted in 1973 by the Graphic Workshop at the State Technical University in Santiago (UTE). It explains how and why these posters and other graphical items were designed in order to convey a message about the looming threat of civil war and a fascist power grab. It sets out the communication goals aimed at countering political violence and describes how these were implemented in graphic works exhibited throughout Chile in universities and community-based organisations. These same works went on show in Santiago, but on this occasion in large formats. The essay details the organisation and production of an exhibition that was to be opened by the Chilean President Salvador Allende on 11 September 1973, fatally coinciding with the coup. The text facilitates reflections on history and the reconstruction of memory in Chile. It also addresses the Chilean context witnessed by Hubert Fichte during his visit in 1971, before the great political polarization that marked the following years. More…

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04/09/2018  Manuel Vicuña  Santiago de Chile
The Return of the Dead

Among other themes, the exhibition SUPRASENSIBILIDADES in Santiago de Chile (13/9 – 18/11/2018) revisits Hubert Fichte’s observations on spirituality, indigenous practices and their esoteric derivations in the major Chilean cities of the period. This context provides a platform for a discussion of spirituality and associated spiritualism with artists Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akøj, historian Manuel Vicuña, and Amilcar Packer and Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, curators of the exhibition Implosão, who described how they address these questions in their works, research and curating. More…

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03/08/2018  Hubert Fichte  Salvador da Bahia
The Land of the Smiles
Polemical Comments on Tristes Tropiques from Claude Lévi-Strauss

Hubert Fichte had a sceptical attitude towards French ethnology, whose influence was dominant in Brazil and remains so to this day. In an exemplary fashion he packed his frequently expressed objections to the school of, amongst others, Claude Lévi-Strauss und Pierre Verger – sometimes also mentioning Michel Leiris, Roger Bastide, and Georges Bataille – into this essay, which critically engages with the methods, attitudes, and results of Lévi-Strauss’s most famous book Tristes Tropiques (and the German translation and treatment Traurige Tropen, available to him). More…

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27/07/2018  Hubert Fichte  Rio de Janeiro
Wolli the India Traveler

In the summer of 1969 Hubert Fichte conducted in-depth interviews with two female and two male sex workers in Hamburg, together with two interviews with his friend the bordello owner Wolli (Wolfgang Köhler). They appeared in 1972 as Interviews aus dem Palais D’Amour etc. (Interviews from the Palais D’Amour etc.), and in 1978, with an additional interview with Wolli, under the title Wolli Indienfahrer (Wolli the India Traveler).As Fichte was in Brazil until September 1969, the precise date the interviews were conducted is unclear. A number of sources claim they were conducted as early as 1968. However, Fichte’s ethnologies of the “foreign” and “own” culture effectively begin at the same time. In the following we present short excerpts from the four sex worker interviews. More…

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29/10/2017  Diedrich Diederichsen  Lisboa
Sexuality, Torture, and Bi-continentality: Resistance, Theory, and Political Heuristic in Hubert Fichte’s Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity)

In this essay, originally commissioned by Jürgen Bock, curator of the project’s first station Lisbon, cultural critic Diedrich Diederichsen pinpoints three themes: sexuality, torture, and bi-continentality. These themes run through the entire Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity), and are present early on in Eine Glückliche Liebe (A Happy Love), before culminating in the novel Forschungsbericht (Research Report): sexuality as a utopian opportunity for physical, global, human unification; torture as the physical reality of oppression; and bi-continentality as a working concept for research into what would later come to be termed the Black Atlantic, the African diaspora. More…

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27/10/2017  Peter Braun  Lisboa
Sesimbra – At the Edge of Europe

The Germanist and media theorist Peter Braun presents the themes and narrative strands of the novel Eine Glückliche Liebe (A Happy Love). He contextualizes them within their formative conditions as well as how they themselves appear in the novel. Braun situates the work as a station in the bio-geography that Hubert Fichte and Leonore Mau would go on to conduct, across the Atlantic and along the African and Afro-diasporic littoral in Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit (The History of Sensitivity): a point of departure. More…

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26/10/2017  Editors  New York
Upcoming

A project curated by Yesomi Umolu is scheduled for December 2018 at the art spaces Participant INC and E-Flux Space, drawing on Hubert Fichte’s essay collection Die Schwarze Stadt. Glossen (1990) and its translation into English (Black City: Glosses, publisher: Sternberg Press). More…

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18/10/2017  Manuela Ribeiro Sanches  Lisboa
Read over the Shoulder, or Ménage à Trois. Hubert Fichte, Leonore Mau and ‘their Native’

Eine Glückliche Liebe (A Happy Love) is the result and testimony of Hubert Fichte’s and Leonore Mau’s stay in Portugal during the early 1960s, the first stop on a journey that, beginning in Brazil, would take them to other places linked to the cultures of the African diaspora. Two readings of the book are possible: one that privileges the objective contexts of the described places; another that considers the subjective processes involved in the perception of the observed world and the construction of the corresponding narrative. Although at a first glance Fichte’s writing does not seem to disclose such processes, a deeper reading allows them to surface. The present text draws on these two perspectives, but adds to them a distinct, equally subjective, point of view. By introducing a third element in this ‘happy love ’ – the observed ‘native woman’ – fascinated and disturbed by the proposed reading – takes revenge on the anthropologist, reading his text over his shoulder. The observers would most probably not have minded this ménage à trois. More…

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