Spoken poetry has a long tradition in Ethiopia. This poetic genre, known as “wax and gold”, is characterised by subtlety and hidden meanings. The literal, superficial words are the “wax” which conceals the “gold” within, wrapping it with wordplays, metaphors and ambiguities which allude to, but do not explicitly express the meaning. In Ethiopia, spoken poetry is performed live or via radio broadcast to large audiences who enjoy the encoded critique of the political system and the radical social and cultural changes which have especially impacted the capital of Addis Ababa.
Continuing its collaboration with Ethiopia, the Institut für Raumexperimente is developing the project “Poetry Jazz, Wax and Honey, I’m home”, featuring international artists who will perform this critical and entertaining performance art form to audiences in Berlin. In cooperation with the performance group Tobiya Poetic Jazz from Addis Ababa and the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, the two-part event in Berlin and Addis Ababa will bring European and Ethiopian poetry, music, translation and spoken language artists together and emphasise the political significance of spoken poetry in connection to music in Ethiopia.
During the rehearsal and working process in Berlin and Addis Ababa, the poets and musicians will examine contemporary expressions of these and other poetry traditions, and combine various elements of performance art, traditional Ethiopian music, jazz and Ethio-jazz influences, and contemporary electronic music. Together they will develop a choreography which merges music and spoken poetry. The newly developed repertory will form the basis of a trilingual poetry publication which experiments with visual and conceptual influences ranging from Fluxus and Dada to concrete poetry and homophonic delivery.
The project hopes to stimulate interest in the long and rich tradition of poetry in different language regions – in this case, the Amharic, English and German regions – and introduce audiences to this genre from multiple perspectives.
Artistic director: Christina Werner (DE)
Participating artists: Eric Ellingsen (US), Hildur Guðnadóttir (IS), Clara Jo (US), Mihret Kebede (ET), Robert Lippok (DE), Nebiy Mekonnen (ET), Bekele Mekonnen Nigussu (ET), Abebaw Melaku (ET), Jorga Mesfin (ET), Moseb Traditional Music Band (ET), Cia Rinne (SE), Rike Scheffler (DE), Misrak Terefe (ET
Summer/autumn 2018, African Jazz Village, Addis Ababa - workshop & performances