Adama Delphine Fawundu can trace her family history several generations back to Equatorial Guinea and to Mano, a small island off the coast of Sierra Leone. The signature blue colour in her work is a reference to water and the various streams that are witnesses to many ages. She considers water to be the element that connects living beings to the universe but also to histories and stories of human life across geographies. With the installation of sixteen newly commissioned flags at the entrance of HKW, Fawundu’s work draws a poetic connection to the history of the former congress hall, its creation, and positionality. She sees these flags as ‘dancing with our ancestors and earth/universe energies to make way for our future’. The aesthetics of her work weave together recurring West African traditional symbols and materials to highlight a rootedness in knowledges that hold answers to contemporary struggles and help oppose narratives of hierarchy and oppression.

Commissioned by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), co-produced by Adama Delphine Fawundu and HKW, 2023.

Work in the exhibition: When the Spirits Dance (2023), sixteen flags on eight poles, prints on textile materials, 100 × 260 cm each. Courtesy of the artist