The Divine Comedy: Heaven and Hell, Purgatory (revisited by Contemporary African Artists) the MMK will serve as a stage for Dante’s Divine Comedy on 4,500 square meters of exhibition space. In this early 14th century epic, which combines central notions of Christianity and religious concepts of antiquity, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) explores theological, philosophical and moral issues which have lost nothing of their social and political topicality to this day. His work forms the foundation for the exhibition developed by curator Simon Njami. Against the background of many Africa-related exhibitions o the past years, the MMK perceives the need to investigate the significance of African art not only in post-colonial context but also in regard to aesthetics. The exhibition will accordingly not be limited to historical or political depictions; on the contrary, it will set its sights on poetry and art as expressive means of conveying and communicating the unspoken.
The exhibition concept transports the universal issues of the Divine Comedy, an uncunable of European literature, into the present and places them in a transitional contemporary text. Kossentini’s contribution to the show is her video installation of six screens entitled ‘Spawn and Wrack’. The six videos are exempted from figurative representation. the words, wether oral or written, are the unique elements of the videos. They replace the absent images to evoke imaginary spaces. The project is about six Algerians. Each person looks back at his or her life and spontaneously relates his or her most important memories. The six stories are told in an Algerian dialect which is a mixture of the Arabic and French languages. They are screened simultaneously, accompanied by a transcript translated into English.
Text extract from Nicene Kossentini’s interview with the MMK