Roma Biennale

»Hydra Plantation Radio« on Radical Care and Botanic Healing

Performance by and with Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro

The artist re-examines the entangled histories of German colonialism in West & South Africa, botanic and mineral sciences, and urban archaeology in order to create a performative installation. Departing from the amphitheaters built by German settlers in Cameroon, Senegal and Gabon at the end of the 19th century for recreational purposes, she follows the multiple traces of writer and botanist Adelbert von Chamisso, whose famous novel The Man With No Shadow (1814) was performed in such theaters, and who's name was re-appropriated locally as an imaginary Goddess, named Camissonae. These historical and imaginary voices come to populate Bikoro's performative sound field, together with those of healing plants, minerals, African parrots mimicking German voices and conceptual radio antennas. 
The research expands to exploring the link between radio reception and piracy as a form of untraining the ear and decanonising forms of knowledge understanding signals of frequency and message through coding anti-colonial resistance knowledge often embraced in anti-colonial African & Diaspora movements in the context of Tanzania (1914), Gabon (1960) and Mozambique (1979). Many of these messages, notably produced in Berlin by the Black Diaspora (1930’s), shared visionary strategies and warnings on colonial struggles and racism. Bikoro explores sound transmissions of botanic debris and piracy through biomythography and scientific sonic debris of colonial German settlements (1914) in Gabon through the interceptions of nature as a place of resistance through an economy and ecology of darkness; what moves in secrecy and returns. In this work nature transmits testimonies and warnings as device for the local struggle of a children’s former labor banana plantation in Mimbeng against a German female Goddess ‘Camissonae’ whose mirage manifestation is inspired by early 19th century German literature.