This month two cultural journalists arrived at Akademie Schloss Solitude who have been invited for a five-month fellowship – Alice Sarmiento (Manila/Philippines) and Enos Nyamor (Nairobi/Kenya).
The special fellowship program supports young, independent cultural journalists who contribute with their work to the constitution of a global and local critical society. The fellowship is co-funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation, which encourages the cultural-political discourse within journalistic work. During their fellowship, the journalists will share their ideas in different formats on Schlosspost and other media platforms and events. Read their short statements to gain insight into their topics and ideas.
Revisiting the Pain of Others
»At the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba, Tokyo, was an exhibition dedicated to young viewers, a section of which was devoted to empathy. One of the videos in that section was an animated short, in which a man trips over a rock and injures himself. A child who was standing by saw what happened and was thus prompted to ask why she feels pain after seeing someone else get hurt.
I only use the past tense in describing that show because I saw it three years ago, in 2016, during a research tour in Japan. It was not an art object in the strict sense, and was definitely not part of a contemporary art show or the usual events that get written up in the sections cultural journalists are known for contributing to. Still, it remains one of the more important images I have encountered as a cultural worker, and I hope it’s still there for young viewers to see.
For the rest of us, the concept demands revisiting. With democracy and press freedom under attack, all journalism becomes a form of activism: a means of rallying for the truth, despite information being weaponized to perpetuate injustice and oppression. Just as information can be weaponized it can also work for us, reminding us that the responsibility toward our shared humanity goes beyond the gallery, the museum, and the theater.
This responsibility takes the shape of earnest, often difficult questions, questions that serve to open our hearts and make us feel less alone – as silly as it may sound. Silliness is also key (as opposed to absurdity), because what is empathy without an unburdening, the lightened load that allows us to see what we stand to lose.«
Writing for our Time
»I wanted to write words that will be cradled from one generation to the next, and that will be spoken and stacked away in neat shelves of memories. And that is the weight of commenting, without permission, about culture and life, especially when one is constantly shoved from one region of identity to another. But identity is as elusive as the timid sun peering above the city of Stuttgart in February.
By the time I stepped foot in Stuttgart, in the frosty weather, I had stripped myself of every piece of illusion. I had lost the excitement of moving to a new place, of dissolving in an alternative surrounding. The Solitude Palace, with all the splendor, transformed into a dull enigma, and my heart was heavy with dry tears. I sobbed in the cold, as a way of reconnecting to myself.
From the moment I was certain of my impending journey, I’d relocated into a penumbra of existence. At home, I was a stranger – someone at the threshold of rediscovery. But when the Airbus belched in Zurich, and perhaps because of the color of my skin, I was made to wait. I became an object of suspicion, and whose intentions were unknown. How did I not wade across the Mediterranean? Suddenly, I realized the heaviness of migration. And so I was alone like a moon in the darkest and coldest night.
With my little suitcase and notebook and pen, I want to preserve my youthfulness. And whatever words I express, and even the memories I trawl, are for my time. As a cultural journalist, I have resigned myself to writing for my time, to documenting all pains and joys that define our world today, at this very moment.«
by Enos Nyamor
I slumbered with one weary eye
the other blinking with despair
Waiting for a new dawn
but the nights froze
Each second a timeless chime
And when the big bird belched
I stepped into a cold oven
A stove that bakes hearts into ice
Bodies become lone trees
the tips of frosty branches
Chain one tree to another
Leaves decaying in the sloth
Faces wander in the damp wind
No hugs, no sunshine in Deutschland