“Is there anything that relates us to others so that we can say that WE are?”
– Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics
When the free-floating modernist roof of the Congress Hall collapsed in 1980, a Western symbol of freedom crumbled. The exhibition The Pregnant Oyster – Doubts on Universalism traces cracks and constructions of minor narratives of world after Western Universalism. Taking inspiration from the ambivalent nickname that Berliners gave the building that is the home of HKW since 1989 due to its form, it asks how horizons of a shared world are born out of concrete, incorporated, situated narratives. The oyster as a queering animal that changes its gender at will, occasionally producing precious surprises, fragile and valuable, is a metaphor for this meandering search. This exhibition, conversations and workshops are the result of the research and residency project Minor Universality, which brings together positions across the visual arts, writing and the sonic, and which was realised by the ERC project Minor Universality in dialogue with The New Alphabet School of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and SAVVY Contemporary. The residency and exhibition were realised over a nearly two-year long process of exchange, workshops, travels, and symposia in Athens, Berlin, Saarbrücken, and Tunis. The propositions in the exhibition derive from situated forms of doubt and engagements of the dominant through the minor and share an urgency to work with the birth of a world within the ruins of the former West.
The exhibition opened in June 2022 with contributions by Filipa César, Emeka Ogboh, SAVVYZAAR (Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Kelly Krugman) and SAVVY.doc (Sagal Farah), Adania Shibli, Camille de Toledo, Shaly Lopez, Bitsy Knox and with a public programme including conversations with the research team and the contributing artists.