New York

Journeys with the initiated
Participant Inc.e-flux
Curators: Yesomi Umolu with Katja Rivera


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 this volume had been previously published (see the editorial note to the German edition at the end of the book), 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, Fichte’s personal and professional partner 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.

26/10/2017  Editors  New York

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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