The Planning and Development of the Festival House Africa

A social sculpture by Christoph Schlingensief

With his plan to build a festival house in Africa, Christoph Schlingensief envisioned a cultural venue on the African continent that neither imitates European models nor is regarded as foreign aid measure. On the contrary, as Schlingensief explained, the venue should be a place of exchange between "the declining civilization of Europe" and "emerging black culture". In his opinion, opera - long recognized as a symbol of European high culture - is in a state of paralysis and social alienation. The Festival House Africa will contribute to "resocializing" opera and anchoring it more firmly in everyday life.
By gaining access to Africa's culture and becoming aware of the potential of opera - through unfettered imagination and creativity, and the reflection on social circumstances - the artist hoped that both continents could benefit from reciprocal effects. The Africans will be able to use opera as a creative motor and Europeans will be able to regard it again as a social organism. This mutual transfer will transform "the needy into helpers (…), the missionaries into the converted" (C. Schlingensief). The festival house is conceived as a meeting place for African and German artists who wish to collaborate on joint productions. It will be open to all segments of the population and serve as a centre of exchange for scholars. The design of the building will include elements of central European theatre and opera models combined with local, traditional architecture and object art. The development phase is part of the artistic project which was presented in the form of an installation during the Herrenhausen Festival Weeks.

Artistic director: Christoph Schlingensief
Artistic advisor: Diédédo Francis Kéré (BF)

Venue and schedule:
Exhibition / installation: Herrenhausen Festival Weeks 1 - 30 June 2010
Part of the project involves finding a suitable location in Africa

Since January 2010, building work has been underway on the opera village near Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso: (external link, opens in a new window)


Festspielhaus Afrika

Veteranenstraße 24

10119 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)