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IN TRANSIT 05: The Curators
Koffi Kôkô is an internationally acknowledged dancer, choreographer and performance artist whose work has played a significant role in both the contemporary African and French dance scenes. Born into a diplomat's family, Koffi Kôkô found himself drawn to Benin's spiritual tradition as a child, and was later initiated into the rites of the Nago. His deep commitment to this culture has remained a pivotal point in his life and work, with the roots of his dance located in ritual and practices preparing the initiate for direct contact to nature and the gods. His encounters with the western world provided the impetus for a process of transforming ritual experience into a differentiated body language, using the techniques and expressive repertoire of modern dance and contemporary theatre. Koffi Kôkô unites two languages and two ways of thinking - combining the contemporary artist with the religious initiate. Since the 1980s he has divided his time between Paris and his hometown of Ouidah in Benin. His key works include "Passage" (1990), "D'une rive à l'autre" (1994), "L'atelier" (1995), "Percussive Feet" (1996), "The Maids" (2001) and "Les feuilles qui résistent au vent" (2003).
Johannes Odenthal heads the Programme Department Music, Dance, Theatre at the Berlin House of World Cultures. As co-curator he was instrumental in the development of the intercultural festival "Hong Kong - Berlin" in 2000 and in the presentation of Japanese performance art at "Translated Acts" in 2001. Until 1997 he was chief editor and publisher of the journal "Ballett International - Tanz aktuell", which he had founded in 1993 with Gerhard Friedrich. From 1987 to 1993 he was editor of the journal "Tanz Aktuell".
Johannes Odenthal studied art history and archaeology, specialising in Christian archaeology, in Cologne, Bonn, and Paris. His in-depth preoccupation with dance began in Paris. He has worked intensively in the Near East. After completing his doctorate in 1985 he worked as an independent writer, bringing out two books on Syria and Istanbul in the Dumont Verlag.
Liu Sola was born in 1955, in Beijing, China, to an influential political family in decline. In 1965, her mother’s historical book was denounced by Mao Zedong. During the “cultural revolution”, Liu Sola was raised by her nanny when both of her parents have been jailed for 8 years as the inventors of “against party”.
After graduating from the Central Conservatory of Music with a degree in composition, Liu composed music for symphony orchestras, ensembles, solo instruments, as well as music for film, television, theater and dance productions. She created the first Chinese rock opera with a libretto based on her own novella. Her best - selling novella You Have no Choice , which won the 1988 Chinese national novella award. Her work received not only critical praise but also became cult reading for the young generation -- and has remained so up to today.
While on a fellowship to the United States in 1987, she discovered her “blackness” when she heard a performance by Junior Wells. In 1989, she went to Memphis and recorded with Memphis blues musicians. From 1988 to 2002, she lived first in London and then in New York, collaborating with Blues, Jazz, Rock, Rap, Reggae, and Club musicians as well as traditional and classical musicians. She has released albums such as [Blues in the East] [China Collage],[Haunts] so on. Her band Liu Sola and Friends, performed as the first-ever traditional Chinese “big band”, also as an ensemble made up of traditional Chinese and American jazz-rock musicians. More recently, she has been devoting her musical attention to discover the myth of Chinese traditional music sounds, while continuing to explore her new vocal styles.
Sarat Maharaj was born in South Africa and educated in one of the segregated universities of the Apartheid era.
He was appointed Professor of History & Theory of Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1997 where he will be Research Professor from 2006. He is currently Professor of Visual Art and Knowledge Systems, Lund University, Sweden
He was the first Rudolf Arnheim Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin (2001-02) and Research Fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht (1999-2001). He was a co-curator on the Documenta X1 team (Kassel. 2002).
His specialist research covers Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce and Richard Hamilton. His recent work focuses on Visual Art practice as Knowledge Production, on Cultural Translation and Difference and globalization. The Lund University Professorship is to enable him to relate these fields further to research in cognition, computational and consciousness studies.