We Are Going To Mars – a choreographic concert
about the piece
The choreographic concert We Are Going To Mars follows the two video works of the same name by the company Christoph Winkler, which celebrated their online premiere in November 2021: In a mixture of video, dance and music, the participating artists examined the history of the first African space programme in Zambia and its reception over the past 50 years. They also build a bridge to the work of the Afro-American musician Sun Ra, who developed his credo “Space is the place” at the same time.
For the first time, the Christoph Winkler Company is now performing the complete soundtrack created especially for the project, in which the band Mourning [A] BLKstar takes up some aspects of the story. A sonic associative space is created in which the dancers now introduce their own movements. From these dance miniatures and in connection with the songs of the band, a free collage develops about the longing of the “Afronauts” for Mars and what it can stand for.
In 1960, Edward Mukuka Nkoloso founded the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy. The goal: an African space programme of its own to join the “Space Race” between the USA and the Soviet Union. On a remote farm, he trained with his “Afronauts” on homemade equipment. Together they built a rocket, the D-Kalu 1, and planned to launch it into space on 24 October 1964. The rocket was to be piloted by 17-year-old Matha Mwambwa, the only woman in the team. The attempt to develop an African space programme was taken anything but seriously by the international press – until a video of the training surfaced ten years ago and triggered a change in perspective. To this day, it is not certain whether the project was a serious scientific endeavour or a satirical commentary on the megalomania and absurdity of an imperialist showdown – or even a training camp for independence fighters. Either way, the term Afronauts today stands for a new self-confidence of black people that is visible in the videos from the 1960s.
WE ARE GOING TO MARS - MISSION STATEMENT
Concept: Christoph Winkler | By and with: Lois Alexander, Symara Johnson, Dava Huesca, Michael Gagawala Kaddu, Oluwafemi Israel Adebajo, Ridwan Rasheed | Music: Mourning [A] BLKstar - Vocals: James Longs, Latoya Kent, Kyle Kidd - Drums: Elijah Vazquez - Trumpet: Theresa May - Trombone: William Washington - Guitar und Keys: Pete Saudek - Samplers und Bass: RA Washington | Costumes: Marie Akoury | Video Contents: Martin Böttger, Vadim Epstein | Video editing: Gabriella Fiore | Technical management: Fabian Eichner | Sound: Björn Stegmann | Production management: Laura Biagioni
Concept: Christoph Winkler | By and with: Lois Alexander, Symara Johnson, Bria Bacon, Michael Gagawala Kaddu, Oluwafemi Israel Adebajo, Ridwan Rasheed | Music: Mourning [A] BLKstar - Vocals: James Longs, Latoya Kent, Chimamaka Peculiar Palmer - Drums: Dante Foley - Trumpet: Theresa May - Trombone: William Washington - Guitar/Keyboards: Pete Saudek - Bass: Elijah Vazquez - Drum machines/synths - RA Washington | Costumes: Marie Akoury | Video Contents: Martin Böttger, Vadim Epstein | Video editing: Gabriella Fiore | Technical management: Fabian Eichner Sound: Björn Stegmann | Production management: Laura Biagioni
A production by Company Christoph Winkler in co-production with SOPHIENSÆLE.
Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe and by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
Media partner: taz, die tageszeitung.
[...]The project We are going to Mars by Christoph Winkler is really whacky. Together with six performers from Nigeria, Uganda and the USA, the Berlin choreographer explores the history of the first African space programme in Zambia 50 years ago. Due to the Corolla pandemic, Winkler was initially only able to show two video works. Now "We are going to Mars" can finally be seen live in the Sophien-saelen (premiere 7.4., 8 pm). The Afronauts develop their miniatures to the songs of the band "Mourning BLKstar". Sandra Luzina, SPIELZEIT - Der Tagesspiegel
I don't know
What I'm looking for
But I know I'm here
A visual and multidimensional, multidisciplinary, multimedia kaleidoscope churned in front of me, where I experienced vastness, not in interstellar-scale distances, but rather in the performers' act of turning and turning the same material over in order to uncover its endless newness. Repetition. Citation and sampling. The video material used 'Jeep dreaming to create restless algorithmically-shifted images that unfolded to reveal another layer, and another, and another, like a strange flower that bloomed without end. The movements of dancers Symara Sarai Johnson, Dava Huesca, Lois Alexander, Michael Gagawala Kaddu, Ridwan Rasheed, and Oluwafemi Israel Adebajo never competed with the video, but rather flickered naturally between the foreground and background of my attention. The music — also the soundtrack to the second "We Are Going to Mars" video work but now played live in front of me by Cleveland-based artist collective Mourning 1A1 BLKstar — carried it all: image, dance, me. This was indeed music that could take you to space. Though it begged the question: which space? Was outer space more vast than inner space?
I don't know
What I'm looking for
But I know I'm here
Cory Tamler, Tanzschreiber