New York

Journeys with the initiated
Participant Ince-flux
Curators: Yesomi Umolu, with Katja Rivera
Artists: Malik Gaines, Evan Ifekoya, Grada Kilomba, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Virginia de Medeiros
e-flux podcast 


The exhibitions at e-flux and Participant Inc in New York, are based on The Black City, a volume of what Fichte termed “glosses.” The book is unnumbered in the History of Sensitivity although it appears in the earliest outlines of the series. Fichte put together the manuscript shortly before his death in March 1986. It consists of material produced between 1978 and 1980 on several trips to New York. In an interview with critic and editor Gisela Lindemann from 1981, Fichte described an additional volume dedicated to Danièle, the eight-year-old daughter of Michael Chisolm – one of Fichte’s main interlocutors in The Black City – which would cover her life up to the year 2000. For Fichte, New York was the center of the African diaspora, the world that interested him the most – the place where the cultures came together from all the parts of the world he had visited. He tries to link this interest to a conception of a universal Afro-diasporic visual art.


Several of the essays and interviews in The Black City had been previously published, and some of the material overlaps – in his essays Fichte incorporates quotations from his conversations. Although most of the conversations were conducted in English, the only extant English transcription is of the interview with Teiji Ito – the others were translated by Fichte into German, and have been translated back into English from the German. The images reproduced as an afterword are a selection of the New York photographs of Leonore Mau who conducted research with him around the world. Together, Fichte and Mau pursed a unified project to observe, write, photograph, and forge new approaches to ethnology.

30/11/2018  Yesomi Umolu, with Katja Rivera  New York
Journeys with the Initiated

Exhibition curator Yesomi Umolu elaborates on the two-fold show at e-flux and Participant Inc, tracing Fichte’s search for a poetic and political revolution in the cultural heritage and contemporary life of the African diaspora in New York and taking his book Die Schwarze Stadt. Glossen (1990, The Black City: Glosses) as a starting point. Umolu focusses on the author’s subjectivity and on how notions of exploitation, authority, and authenticity manifest themselves in pseudo-ethnographic practices while counterpointing Fichte’s approach with commissions of contemporary artworks that deal with themes of auto-ethnography, spirituality, queerness, and black subjectivity. More…

This text is available in: EN
29/11/2018  Serubiri Moses  New York
The Hiss and Steam of a Pot of Blood

Okot p’ Bitek’s seminal work African Religions in Western Scholarship (1970) calls on readers to question the aims of the study of African religions. Following this, and pointing towards Adam Siegel’s translations of Hubert Ficthte’s Black City and The Research Report (Forschungsbericht) into English, writer and curator Serubiri Moses asks questions about knowing and the assumptions made about African religions in Fichte’s work. More…

This text is available in: EN