Ìsàlè Èkó - The message never sees the light of day, but is understood

A shallow grave was dug for the recording instruments to lie in.
Dirt heaped on top, the dirt blocked out the sunlight, the sound of
beneath grows louder.
Submerged, shards of lighter higher sounds filtering through the
topsoil like young stalks breaking through the soil seeking the face
of the sun to grow. Life and death.
The intensity of the pressure of being underground is then compounded
by layering the sub harmonics of the composition with some tube valve
warmth to emulate the heat of the earth,
All the energy lies in the sub, the reach of a sub harmonic wavelength
is long, the message is carried further underground, like a network of
tree roots.
The message never see the light of day, but is understood.
by Leke "CHiFY" Awoayinka

A world where violence, foreign domination and profit prevail and our relationship to the earth, or how it is used and abused, is seen by the artist as synonymous with how bodies and their emotional “landscapes” are dealt with. The more resources, including copper—without which our contemporary digital world is inconceivable—are mined, the more the search for or connection to inner resources seems relevant.
These various themes and their associated stories are not necessarily addressed directly in the exhibition or reproduced. Rather, they are kept present through the materials enlisted, by relating to their origin, their use, their historical relevance, their development and the trade routes that have shaped our society very physically over time.
The artist creates a space, in a certain sense a “third space”, in which a larger spectrum of stories and their complex interrelations with matter, material and their transformation and relationship to people can be experienced, and other perspectives made possible. From the materials and plants that are addressed, she extracts, in a way, the essence of their inherent energies and logics, makes them physically perceptible and thus ultimately also calls upon their nourishing properties.
Text by Nikola Dietrich
SPIRITUELLES TAGEBUCH Ich lebe nicht vergebens
Composition and voice by Jumoke Adeyanju aka mokeyanju, 9:15min
Poetry (German Original): Susanne Wenger
Poetry (English / Yorùbá Original): Jumoke Adeyanju
Sample von: Jack Mensah
DEATH OF NATURE, 2020 - WALPURGISNACHT by Johannes Praetorius (1656) and DE RE METALLICA by Georg Agricola (1556)
The project Red Gold Import Export engages critically with the history of the global copper trade. It manifests in a jewelry line that is produced with e-waste in the lost wax technique in Benin-city, Nigeria. The performative aspect of jewelry as well as the the capability of brass to store and regulate energy transmission are essential.
Aṣọ Lànkí, Kí Ató Ki Ènìyàn / We Greet Dress Before We Greet it‘s Wearer - Red Gold in collaboration with Lagos Space Programme

DRIFT AND SHIFT Kunstverein Göttingen
Her research also leads her into the area surrounding Göttingen and the Harz region. The Harz was an important mining area for copper, which was also partly used for the production of Manillas. A West-African currency, used by the colonial powers from the late 14th century into the 18th for trading.
Performance with Jeremiah Day and Hilla Steinert
Union Trading Company LTD Basel, Broad Street, Lagos, Nigeria - around 1953

As in the Lagos Biennale installation, the work deals with the history of the Union Trading Company (UTC) that was established in 1928, and has it’s roots in the Basler Mission, which has been operating since 1854 in Ghana.
The UTC was one of the most important colonial trading companies of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the beginning the company exported cocoa, palm oil and cotton. Later on they traded in vehicles, textiles, tools, machinery, and much more. It also ran large, elegant department stores in Accra and Lagos and its Swiss staff imported and disseminated know-how.
This piece is the second chapter of the installation. It was specially developed for the Swiss Art Awards competition that took place in the fair hall 3 in Basel. This hall was built in the 1934 and hosted the first trade fairs in Switzerland.
All the elements used for the installation belonged once to the UTC. The preoccupation with the company is a personal affair in the regard, that they traded also with Oris watches, a former family business.
In this exhibition Dunja Herzog explored the notion of
living in a world that we do not fully understand, where
things are lost in translation and we experience our own
vulnerability. Herzog likes to create environments made
of everyday junk. Sometimes they are the home
landscape of some indefinable entities whose nature and
function remain unclear. Climbing and trailing vines and
the flickering of disco LED lights create a sensorial
energising vibe at 1646. This world breathes the
atmosphere of the bustling jungle combined with the
rubbish of the urban environment, familiar and strange,
like a parallel world with a logic of its own.
The invitation to participate in Attempts to Read the World
offered an opportunity for Dunja Herzog to
connect to the work of the Austrian born artist and Yoruba
priestess Susanne Wenger (1915-2009). Wenger devoted
most of her life to the preservation, revival, and promotion
of the cultural heritage of the Yoruba culture in Nigeria.
She worked together with other artists on the restoration
of Yoruba shrines in the forest groves where the shrines,
nature and her own sculptures all became part of this
sacred environment. The fusion of art and religion is at the
core ofWenger’s art and she saw it as her purpose to protect
the sacredness of nature. Still using a modernist mode of art
construction for her reinventions in Yoruba tradition, Wenger
merged her holistic worldview into her ‘archisculpture’,
which she no longer regarded as autonomous sculpture but
as a translation of the messages of the Yoruba deities.
For Dunja Herzog, Wenger functions as a mediator offering
a different perspective through which to read global
developments and the history of art. Wenger offers Herzog
a way out of thinking in binary oppositions of self and other,
opting for the contagious travel of ideas and thoughts, and
accepting that what is lost and gained in translation.
ODU by Susanne Wenger in Oshogbo, Nigeria
The recognizable every day objects are bringing
the reality of things into the exhibition space. They
are carrying little stories of their, from human defined,
functions and give the impression to be animated or
placeholders of our world. In their fragility there is
an insecurity that seems not only to be physical but
also emotional. The balance, in wich they are held,
threatens to get lost anytime.
37° On Earth
It belongs to us a little less than we belong to it

The Industrial age and modern life concentrated in cities
have brought a surplus production of objects in their
wake. We are surrounded and swamped with objects,
tools, prostheses, more than in any other time in history.
Functional objects, everyday objects, disposable things.
What is the value of all this for contemporary occidental
society? What are the true functions of these things?
What needs do they satisfy? How do they influence our
everyday life? After a research that has led her to cross
various cultures from the African Continent for many
years, Dunja Herzog plunges back into the occidental
world, assuming the viewpoint of things. She reassembles
materials, mostly found by the wayside and in
domestic places, and like a modern teller of fables she
grants them a new existence. This exhibition is a world
of creatures that we could define as hybrids – for lack
of a more precise word – apparently fragile, without
definite purpose, maybe useless, with no fixed abode
and made of the refuse of our everyday existence. If
anyone is willing to pay attention, they can come to
life, and also speak. Usually, as in the case of Kafka’s
Odradek, the conversation ends in laughter – but it is
only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It
sounds rather like the rustling of fallen leaves.
Will anyone point out that the emperor has
no clothes? Text by Salvatore Lacagnina
In Divertimento per I ragazzi des domain Herzog portrays the ambiguous personage of Pulcinella as a formless pile of matter with mask and without limbs. A friendly enemy, an archetypal figure once embodying anarchic freedom, wit and aggression, is now disarmed and immobilized.
The work REGARDING PAIN unites a collection of titles
from Goyas Los Desastres de la Guerra from 1810–20
with the title of one of the most important theoretical
standard works about war photography, Regarding
the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag. The 36-part
series is explored through two overlapping printed
coinages. The empty space symbolizes the smallest
size of a photograph (9 × 13 cm) and the other shows
the quotations of the titles. Text by Sabine Schaschel
That cannot be seen
What madness!
He deserved it
All is in confusion
Against the common good
Thruth died
They do not want to
They don’t know the way
With reason, or without
And it can’t be helped
There is no more time
No one knows why
This is what you were born for
This is bad
They are still of use
Vain laments
Of no use to cry
The worst is to beg
I saw it
Cruel misery!
The same elsewhere
So much and even more
Will she rise again?
Strange devotion!
Of what use is a cup?
This is the worst
They avail themselves
They do not agree
The cats pantomime
And they are wild beasts
The consequences
Horrible Monster!
Nothing. We shall see
The Pah’bèt project examines the role and the reproduction of traditional objects in the African context. It is a reflection on the Western appropriation of such objects and takes a critical stand towards it. The project was conceived in Fumban, Cameroon together with the craft men of the bronze workshop of Kouotou Arouna. The work consists of two bronze objects, a video showing the objects being used as cult items for a staged marriage ritual, and a publication. The publication presents the description of the invented Pah’bèt cult, the lost wax casting process, and two essays that outline how the presence of Chinese bronze traders are influencing the craft in Fumban. The installation combines the elements in staging a pseudo-museal setting. The Pah’bèt are shown on specially designed pedestal, strongly lit. Two chairs invite the audience to view the publication, listen to the essays on headphones, and to watch the video.
Alioum Moussa, Goddy Leye, Dunja Herzog, Luc Foster-Diop, Justine Gaga, Achille Ka, Ginette Dalen
EXIT TOUR was a 2 month journey across West African by public transport, stopping at the major cities of Lagos, Cotonou, Lomé, Accra, Ouagadougou, Bamako and Dakar. The aim of this trip was to connect with the local art scene and initiate a dialogue with its members. The Dakar Biennale was supposed to be the last stop. Goddy Leye (artist and project manager of the Art Bakery in Cameroon) and two young artists, Justine Gaga and Luc Foster-Diop conceived the project. Achille Ka, Alioum Moussa, Ginette Dalen and Dunja Herzog where the other participants. Feeling isolated in their own country, the main motivation for the artists on the project was the desire to engage with other artists living in a similar socio-cultural context, in the hopes of setting up a West African artist’s network. It was one of Goddy Leye’s main concerns; to promote the contact between artists within Africa in order to make the local young artists aware of the importance of art and prevent them from limiting their engagement with the European art market. It was also an important aim to understand the cultural politics of each country, and obtain an understanding of the situation of the contemporary art scene across West Africa. At each city, EXIT TOUR organized symposias, workshops and exhibitions at, and its members visited its cultural institutions, local art projects and artist studios. EXIT TOUR was a special project due to its early adoption of the idea of connecting to the other art scenes on the continent, the means the group used to communicate and promote the project, and the self-funding strategy they developed. Before the era of the smart-phone, a website constantly updated and informed the location of the group and reported on their activities. En route, the group founded the “Enterprise“ which promoted EXIT TOUR via commercial means. A logo was created and was printed onto T-shirts and bags, featuring the web-link and these were offered for sale. The income helped to support the project financially. Posters and stickers, including the logo, were also produced and were used for a number of interventions in public spaces. The commitment of the artists and the risk they took – the project was funded almost uniquely by the “Enterprise“ – was exceptional. The participants of EXIT TOUR documented the journey in videos, photographs and texts.


  • 2021
    • So tender and attentive. Artachment, Basel. With Roman Sonderegger and Yelisaveta Staehlin. Curated by Raphael Bottazzini
  • 2020
  • 2019
    • Red Gold. Auswahl 19. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
  • 2018
  • 2017
    • Lagos Biennale. Lagos, Nigeria. Curated by Folakunle Oshun, Co-curated by Ayo Akinwande and Aminat Lawal Agoro
  • 2016
    • Auswahl 16. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
    • There was a world, once, you punk. Point Project at BLOK ART SPACE, Istambul. Curated by Anneli Botz, Lars Bjerre, Anna-Lena Werner
    • The word for world is forest. 1646, Den Haag. Curated by Clara Pallí Monguilod, Floris Kruidenberg, Johan Gustavsson, Nico Feragnoli
    • Corpus Transmitter. Trudelhaus, Baden
    • Objects from the Temperate Palm House. Bargain Spot, Edinburgh. Curated by Chloe Reith and Kirsty White
  • 2015
    • A bigger page than usual allows writing beyond an end. New Bretagne / Belle Air, Essen. Curated by New Bretagne Frieder Haller, Susanne Hefti, Anna-Lisa Högler, Phung-Tien Phan, Fabian Preuschoff, Alexander Schöpfel and Niklas Taleb
    • Invited by NERO to The Independent, MAXXI Museum, Rome
  • 2014
    • Attemps to read the world (differently). Stroom, Den Haag, NL (2 year project until 2016)
    • Too much sun is no good for dreams. Auswahl 14, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
    • Having a good time. Galleria Periferia, Luzern. Curated by Maude Leonard-Contant
    • Helvetic Zebra. STATION, Beirut. Curated by Donatella Bernardi
    • Friendship is not negotiable. Kunstkredit, Kunsthalle Basel. Curated by Ruth Kissling
    • Swiss Art Award. Basel
    • Newpressionism: 1, 11, 111. Instituto Svizzero, Milano. Curated by Miltos Manetas
    • I know it‘s a zebra when I see stripes. Piano Nobile, Geneva (solo). Curated by Isaline Vuille and Marie-Eve Knoerle
    • Seeing things. Glasgow International, Across the City, Glasgow. Curated by the artists
  • 2013
    • Laughter is usually the end of the conversation. Instituto Svizzero, Milano (solo) Curated by Salvatore Lacagnina and Valentina Sansone
    • We would prefer not to. Sic! Raum für Kunst, Luzern. Curated by Nadine Wiedlisbach
    • Under a hunch. Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel (solo with G. Küng). Curated by Rahel Schelker
  • 2012
    • Balises. Piano Nobile, Genf. Curated by Isaline Vuille
    • Auswahl 12. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
    • A word for a play. By Radio Arthur. Reginale 13, Kunsthaus Baslland, Muttenz. Curated by Sarah Bernauer, Franziska Glozer and Oliver Dolder
    • We are rolling, At Home IX. Galerie J, Genf. Curated by Martina- Sofie Wildberger and Raphael Julliard
    • Degree Show. Glasgow School of Art, Glue Factory, Glasgow Stay Vector, Stay!, Glasgow
    • Stay Vector, Stay!. Glasgow. Curated by the artists
    • Manufacture. CentrePasquArt, Biel. Curated by Zoë Gray and Sandra Patron
    • Buccleuch. exhibitions in a living room, Glasgow. Curated by me
  • 2011
    • Meubler la solitude. Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz. curated by Simon Bauer
    • Down the road. Project space of Gallery Ribordy contemporary curated by Isaline Vuille, Genf (solo)
    • The Wonders of the Invisible World. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, GB. Curated by Alistair Robinson
    • Territoires. BEX & ARTS, Bex, Schweiz. Curated by Noémie Enz, Jessica Schupbach and Pascal Häusermann
    • Il n‘y a que les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent pas. Agent Double, Genf. Curated by Isaline Vuille
  • 2010
  • 2009
    • Prolog. Landwirtschaftsbetrieb Frohe Aussicht, Zürich. Curated by Martin Blum
    • Timewarp, Project Room. CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France (solo). Curated by Felicity Lunn
    • Caravan. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau (solo). Curated by Madeleine Schuppli
    • Auswahl 09. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
    • US. Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg. Curated by Bettina Malcomess and Simon Njami
  • 2008
    • Auswahl 08. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
    • Regionale 09. Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz
  • 2007
    • Regionale 8. Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
    • Inventing tradition - Pah’Bèt. Residency and screening at ANNEX, Jan Van Eyck, Maastricht. Hosted by Marjolijn Dijkman
  • 2006
    • Tu Vas Où – Compte Rendu. Espace Céateurs, Douala – Cameroun (solo). Self initiative
    • On the way to work- iaab “Choices”. Kunstraum Riehen
    • Exit Tour. A 2 month travel project from Douala to Dakar, Artbakery, Douala - Cameroon
  • 2005
    • Enough room for space Part II. Claragraben 131, Basel. Curated by Schalter and Filiale.
    • Regionale 6. Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz
    • Boulev´art 05. Cotonou – Benin. Curated by Dominique Zinkpe and Elise Daubelcour
    • Establishing a residency program between Iaab, Christoph Merian Stiftung, Basel and Artbakery, Douala - Cameroon (until 2011)
  • 2010 - 12
    • MFA, Glasgow School of Art
  • 2001 - 04
    • BA, Academy of Art and Design, Basel
  • 2000 - 01
    • Basic year, School of Art and Design, Basel


C R E D I T S 
    [Copyright] => © 2022 Dunja Herzog
    [Photographers] => 
            [Ayo Akinwande] => Photo 54
            [Emanuele Biondi] => Photos 105 and 106
            [Kadera Enyeasi] => Photo 36
            [Jhoeko Fotografie] => Photos 64, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70 and 71
            [Dunja Herzog] => Photos 6, 7, 9, 22, 55, 62 and 72
            [Stefan Jaeggi] => Photos 90 and 96
            [Judith Kakon] => Photos 81, 83, 84, 85 and 86
            [Alex  Kern] => Photo 53
            [Viktor Kolibal] => Photo 87
            [Niklas  Taleb] => Photo 77
            [Mareike Tocha] => Photos 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 14, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 and 30

    [Website] => by Fuchs Borst,